Thursday’s winner is Mike Lowell (88% to 12%). He will face the winner of today’s match in the elite eight.

Friday’s Match

Today we have Denny Walling (Waynesboro 1975) vs Juan Pierre (Harrisonburg 1997).

  • Walling defeated Dan Pasqua to move into this round. His writeup: “Walling was the first overall pick in the June 1975 draft- of the Oakland A’s, out of Clemson. He made his major league debut very quickly- in September of 1975. Mostly known as a pinch hitter throughout his 18 year career, Walling’s best season was in 1986, when he hit .312/.367/.479 in 382 at-bats, with 23 doubles, 13 home runs, and a 36/31 BB/K ratio. Over his career, spanning 2,945 at-bats, he hit .271/.339/.390, with 142 doubles, 30 triples, 49 home runs, and an almost-even 308/316 BB/K ratio. He played in three playoff series with the Astros- 1980, 1981, and 1986- but did not advance to the World Series. After his playing career, he joined the Oakland A’s coaching staff from 1996 to 1998, was the hitting coach for the New York Mets in 2003 and 2004, a roving minor league hitting instructor for the Baltimore Orioles from 2007 to 2011, and a hitting coach in Triple-A for the Norfolk Tides from 2012 to 2014. He also went back to Waynesboro to throw out the first pitch at a Generals game in 2009.”
  • Pierre beat Tommy La Stella to get here. His writeup: “The 1998 Sun Belt Player of the Year for South Alabama, Juan Pierre was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 13th round that June. He made quick work of the minor leagues, being named an All-Star in 1998 in Low-A, in 1999 in High-A, and in 2000 in Double-A. He made his major league debut on August 7, 2000, and hit .310/.353/.320 in 200 at-bats, finishing 6th in Rookie of the Year voting. He started a stretch of seven straight seasons in which he played at least 152 games in 2001, and hit .327/.378/.415, with 26 doubles, 11 triples, and leading the league with 46 stolen bases. He was traded to the Florida Marlins in November, 2002, and helped lead the Fish to a World Series title in 2003. He spent a year in Chicago with the Cubs in 2006, then spent three years with the Dodgers in LA, two back in Chicago with the White Sox, and then single years with the Phillies in 2012 and back in Miami to finish his career in 2013. In 7,525 career at-bats, Pierre hit .295/.343/.361, with 255 doubles, 94 triples, 614 stolen bases, and an almost-even 464/479 BB/K ratio. He lead the league in stolen bases three times, in hits twice, triples once, singles six times, and received MVP votes twice. He also set a record for the best fielding percentage in a full season, after not committing a single error in 162 games in the outfield in 2006. Pierre was the minor league outfield coordinator for the Marlins in 2019, and was named to the Valley League Hall of Fame that same year.”

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And by the way, if you want to read much, much more about the 2019 VBL season, be sure to check out the 2019 Valley League Annual!