It certainly wasn’t the ending the Valle Catholic Warriors were looking for, but that shouldn’t take away from what was a truly remarkable season. They end the 2023 campaign at 29-5 and were more than most teams could handle all year long. They just happened to run into a buzzsaw in the West County Bulldogs in the District Finals.
The Warriors were the top seed in the Class 3 District 3 Tournament and had a first round bye that set them up to play Arcadia Valley in the Semifinals. They smoked the Tigers 15-0 to send them to the Championship game, but the Bulldogs of West County pulled off the surprise upset and won the game 6-3, effectively ending Valle’s season.
The game against Arcadia Valley on Tuesday displayed the kind of dominance that Warrior fans were used to seeing all season. The game lasted just four innings and Valle was able to put up runs in every one of them. They scored one in the first, four in the second, two in the third and then exploded for eight in the fourth to trigger the mercy rule and send the Tigers packing.
Surprisingly, the Warriors did most of their damage playing small ball. They collected 12 hits, but only one went for extra bases (a double by Preston Lurk). They didn’t have to do too much though, as they were helped by four Arcadia Valley errors. Still, Valle displayed their trademark speed, stealing nine bases in this one.
The offense was as spread out as it gets, with 10 different players driving in at least a run. Rylan Fallert and Carson Tucker each had two RBI and Fallert and Alex Viox were the only players with multiple hits (both registering two).
Grant Fallert was on the mound for this one and was as dominant as anyone could ask for. He pitched all four innings to earn the win, allowed just two hits and a walk and struck out nine.
That set the stage for the District Final against West County, but things didn’t start off the way Valle would have hoped. The Bulldogs struck first with two runs in the top of the second and wouldn’t trail for the remainder of the game. The Warriors managed to tie it in the bottom of the frame on a Tucker RBI groundout and a run-scoring single by R. Fallert, but the next inning would be an issue.
West County piled on four more runs in the top of the third and went up 6-2. Valle struggled offensively the rest of the game and, despite scratching out a run in the seventh via error, it just wasn’t in the cards for them in this one. The Bulldogs foiled any chance of a comeback and held on to win 6-3 to send the Warriors packing.
It was an unceremonious ending to a brilliant season, but that doesn’t mean 2023 didn’t have it’s highlights. Valle’s 29 wins was the most since 2016 when they managed 35, and there were some truly impressive individual performances as well.
The Warriors had three players with more than 30 RBI this year. Chase Fallert led the way with 35, followed by Clayton Drury with 32 and Viox with 31. They were also the only three players to homer this season with five for C. Fallert, four for Viox and one for Drury.
They also had seven regulars hit over .300 this year, with C. Fallert leading the way with a .393 average. Here are the others:
A. Viox – .383
Isaac Viox – .370
R. Fallert – .367
Drury – .359
Tucker – .323
G. Fallert – .316
There were also four players with double-digit steals in G. Fallert (24), C. Fallert (19), I. Viox (19) and Drury (16).
As for the rotation, the big three were Lurk, G. Fallert and Drury. G. Fallert was 8-0 with a 1.54 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP, Lurk was 7-0 with a 1.84 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP and Drury was 6-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. Cannon Wolk led the team in saves with three and G. Fallert was the strikeout leader with 63 in 40.2 innings.
This is a team loaded with talent that just happened to have one bad game at the worst possible time. That being said, all these young men performed admirably and the future looks very bright for the Valle Catholic Warriors. Congrats on a fantastic 2023 season.