By ADAM HOLT
Syracuse's Class 2-1A state tournament quarterfinal game against Valley Falls might have come down to a two-error fourth inning.
Or it might have been a lack of timely hitting that made the difference.
As it was, the Bulldogs fell, 9-4, to the Dragons Friday afternoon in Emporia.
"I told them, when we get to this level, one or two mistakes can be very costly," Syracuse head coach Dustin Doze said in a phone interview. "We looked at the scoreboard and showed them that we had outhit the opponent and just didn't produce runs."
Two errors in the fourth inning allowed Valley Falls to score five runs and turn a 3-2 game into an 8-2 contest.
"We committed two errors," Doze said of the fourth. "They had two different hits to third base and we threw to second for the double-play ball on both, the first was a bad throw; and the second one was a dropped ball. If we would have made those outs, they more than likely would not have scored those five runs."
Syracuse out-hit Valley Falls 11-10, but too few of the hits came with runners on base.
Syracuse, the home team as the No. 4 seed, got a first inning run to take the first lead. Gary Parks and JD Howell singled to start the game and the Bulldogs loaded the bases with a walk. Parks stole home to score the run, but Syracuse couldn't bring any more runners home — a trend which would continue throughout the game. The Bulldogs' final out with the bases loaded.
"We just didn't have hits at the right times," Doze said. "We just left guys on and the timeliness of the hits, more than anything."
Miguel Romero hit a solo home run in the fifth and added a walk, single and triple.
Howell pitched 3 1/3 innings, allowing eight runs while walking two and striking out four. Romero finished the game, striking out four and walking four.
Syracuse finishes the season 18-5. Valley Falls improved to 18-6 and faced No. 1 seed Sedan (22-2) today in the semifinals.
"Definitely disappointing," Doze said. "We've got a great bunch of seniors that really meant a lot to our baseball programs. We sure would have liked to get them a win today."
See linescore in Scoreboard, Page D2.