Mendenhall leads Mustang hit parade

By PATRICK MacCOON patrick.maccoon@clevelandbanner.com
Posted 4/18/17

With a great deal of carry behind his swing, senior center fielder Tucker Mendenhall helped elevate Walker Valley one step closer to the District 5-AAA regular season title.

The Mustangs’ speedy …

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Mendenhall leads Mustang hit parade

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With a great deal of carry behind his swing, senior center fielder Tucker Mendenhall helped elevate Walker Valley one step closer to the District 5-AAA regular season title.

The Mustangs’ speedy leadoff hitter could not be quieted, as he went 4-for-4 with a pair of triples, a double and a single in a 14-4 run-rule victory over the Hurricanes in five innings at Mike Turner Field Monday evening.

Mendenhall even reached home plate safely with one swing of the bat, as he advanced home on his third extra base hit in as many at-bats due to a wild throw into his home dugout, which gave Walker Valley a 7-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth.

“Coach (Joe) Shamblin talked to us all before the game about finishing the last two district weeks of the regular season strong,” said Mendenhall, who leads his team in extra base hits this season with 12. “I came ready to play. We host the district tournament here and we really want the number one seed.”

The seventh and final extra base hit for the Mustangs (16-9, 7-2 5-AAA) came off a sharp line drive from Caleb Lawhon to the right center gap for a two-run double to finalize the outcome in a seven-run fifth.

Walker Valley’s lineup tallied 14 hits and has now scored 29 runs over its last two games, which is its most offensive production in any two games this season.

“We have been swinging the bats pretty good the last few days,” said Coach Shamblin, whose team has beaten McCallie (9-8) and Morristown West (15-8) over a three-game win streak. “They have a lot of confidence right now and it doesn’t seem to matter what type of pitching we go against.”

Lawhon drove in a season-high four runs and went 3-for-4 batting seventh in the lineup. He has 10 RBIs over the last three games.

After the victory kept the Mustangs a game ahead of Ooltewah for the district lead, with a pivotal series to be played between the two next week, the junior designated hitter spoke about the importance of not cooling off.

“We are that much closer to the district tournament and getting the No. 1 seed,” Lawhon said. “I think when our pitching and offense work together we are unstoppable. Every time I go up to bat I just have to keep thinking about driving it up the middle and going to all fields.”

Junior ace Matthew Pigg improved to 3-1 on the season and lowered his ERA to 1.57, as he threw 54 of his 79 pitches for strikes over five innings.

The hard-throwing righty allowed one earned run on four hits and gave up a walk and struck out five. On the season Pigg has 48 strikeouts over 40 2/3 innings.

Drew Cantrell led East Hamilton (9-12, 4-4) with two hits and a pair of RBIs. The Hurricanes plated three in the third, with just one run charged to Pigg.

Brady Swafford and Mendenhall started the bats off hot against University of Tennessee signee Nick Woods, as they both doubled and tripled in their first two at-bats to help build a 6-3 lead by the end of the third inning.

Swafford also drove in four runs and went 3-for-4 with two runs.

Recently moved to the three-hole in the Walker Valley lineup, Grayson Rountree reached base all four times with a single and three walks as well as runs scored.

After a 4-for-5 weekend in the six-hole, Blake Peterson went 1-for-2 with an RBI and one of four triples in his new slot in the lineup.

Mendenhall now has three triples on the season, as he hit one to the right-center field gap to start the game and hit another to the left field fence on one-hop.

“Honestly, when things are going right for me it looks like beach balls are coming in to the plate,” said the Cleveland State baseball signee, who also hit his seventh double of the season. “I guess I have a natural carry on the ball. I am not trying to pull it anywhere, just take it where it’s pitched.”

Making a defensive gem in right field was Mason Oran, who took away extra bases with a diving catch in the top of the fourth inning.

Jordan Munck and Jacob McCall both had hits as well for the Mustangs, who will look to keep the bats rolling at East Hamilton today with first pitch at 5 p.m., if field conditions permit.

MUSTANGS 14, HURRICANES 4

East Hamilton 003 01 — 4 4 3

Walker Valley 303 17 — 14 14 3

WP: Matthew Pigg (3-1) 5 IP, 4 H, BB, 5 K, 79 P. LP: Nick Woods 3 1/3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 6 K’s. 2B: Davis Dunn (EH). Brady Swafford, Tucker Mendenhall, Caleb Lawhon (WV). 3B: Mendenhall 2, Swafford, Blake Peterson. LOB: East Hamilton 4; Walker Valley 4. Highlights: Drew Cantrell 2-3 2 RBIs (EH); Mendenhall 4-4, 2 RBIs, 3 R, Swafford 3-4, 4 RBIs, 2 R, Lawhon 3-4 4 RBIs, Grayson Rountree 1-1 3 BB, 3 R, Blake Peterson 1-2 RBI. Records: East Hamilton 9-12, 4-4 District 5-AAA. Walker Valley 16-9, 7-2 District 5-AAA.

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