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Keio Baseball Outlasts Valhalla in Quarterfinals

PURCHASE, N.Y. – Keio Academy pitcher Kento Suga was on the verge of finishing a complete game Saturday against Valhalla. Teammate Takumi Yokoyama warmed up in the bullpen just in case he needed to come on in relief.

He didn’t.

Suga shut the door on No. 7 Valhalla, and No. 2 Keio advanced to the semifinals of the Section 1 Class B baseball playoffs.

“I can’t say enough about Kento. He’s just, he is the ultimate gamer,” said Keio coach Rocky Pasquale. “When he’s gassed, he just finds a way of getting it done. Even though we had Takumi warmed up, it was his game to win.”

Valhalla and Keio are two rivals who are quite familiar with each other. The teams meet twice each season and have met in the playoffs three times in the past five seasons. Pasquale said the game played out exactly as he expected, given the teams’ history.

“We always have great games with Valhalla,” Pasquale said. “They’re a good team, and you’ve got to come to play when you’re playing them. They play up. They’re fundamentally sound. In a 2-1 ballgame, every little thing counts.”

Valhalla coach Josh Wolfson pointed to the team’s leaving runners in scoring position several times Saturday as the reason for the loss. Like Pasquale, he also was unsurprised by the pace and tone of the game.

“This is exactly what I thought it would be like,” Wolfson said. “The team that made the plays and the team that got the clutch hits would come out on top, and unfortunately today we didn’t get the big hit when we needed it.”

Wolfson and the Vikings did not face Suga this season but had faced him in past seasons. The hurler’s performance Saturday caused Wolfson to credit him after the game.

“He throws strikes. He’s not overpowering, but he throws strikes,” Wolfson said. “He locates his pitches and keeps us off-balance. So hats off to him.”

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