Limiting the Mustangs to just five balls put in play and a lone seeing-eye single with two outs in the sixth inning, the junior lefty helped the Blue Raiders complete a key district sweep to move into third place in the 5-AAA race.
Now 10-8 overall on the season and 4-2 in league play, coach Ted Carson’s crew is two games behind district-leader Bradley Central (12-4, 6-0) and a game back in the loss column to next week’s 5-AAA opponent Ooltewah (12-7, 7-1). The Bears and Owls also completed district sweeps Tuesday evening over McMinn and Rhea County respectively.
Cleveland will return to Raider Field this evening to face Chattanooga Central, in a game that was moved up a day due to the rain forecast for Thursday. The Raiders and Pounders will play in Harrison Friday evening.
Walker Valley (9-9, 5-3) is slated to play host to Cumberland County Thursday, Rockwood Friday and a noon twin bill with Oak Ridge on Saturday.
Wyrick struck out the first four Mustangs he faced before issuing a four-pitch walk to opposing pitcher John Simmons. The Raider lefty promptly picked off the Mustang courtesy runner on a 1-3-6 caught stealing. He then struck out the next batter to end the inning.
After another four-pitch walk to open the top of the third, Wyrick posted his second string of four straight Ks which ended with his third free pass on the minimum number of pitches. With one out and one on in the top of the fourth, Walker Valley finally put a ball in play when Josh Poole lifted a fly ball that was caught in center field.
In the fifth frame, Walker Valley’s Drew Lyles got a free pass to open the at bat but was stranded on first after a weak infield pop up and two more Ks followed.
Wyrick opened the top of the six with a 3-pitch backward K and a by fielding a come-backer to the mound to throw out the second batter. After Barnes worked the next count full, he was able to connect with a hard shot that found its way between the Raider third baseman and shortstop and into left field to break up the no-hitter. After another walk followed, Wyrick worked out of the jam with his 14th strike out.
Despite losing the no-no and having already thrown more than 120 pitches while his team built a 9-0 lead, Wyrick wanted to finish the game and went back out for the top of the seventh. “I wanted to finish the game,” explained Wyrick, who once struck out 17 batters in a game as a freshman. “I told coach (Carson) that I wanted to go one more.”
Despite walking four of the first six batters he faced and giving up a pair of runs (only one was earned), Wyrick was able to close the game with his final K to leave the bases loaded.
“Jake (Wyrick) is coming into himself the last couple of games,” commented coach Carson. “He had a good fastball tonight and his curve was working well. Our offense also gave him some great support and we played pretty good defense on the few balls we had to field.”
The Raider offense picked up solo runs in the first two innings on an RBI-hit by Taylor Thompson to plate Kimsey Bell, who had also singled, in the opening frame before Bell drew a bases-loaded walk in the second to bring in courtesy runner Jay McIntire.
Cleveland used a pair of singles and three free passes to put up a 3-spot in the third frame with Michael Henderson lacing an RBI-hit to bring in Eric Powers and Ryan Adkins, plating Reed Allison with a walk. Henderson scored the final run of the rally on a wild pitch.
Henderson brought in two more runs in the bottom of the fourth with a solid single to right to plate courtesy runner Jackson Earle and Allison, who reached on an error.
The hosts tacked on a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning when Nick Miller singled home both Earle (who was once again running for Wyrick) and Thompson, who went 2-for-4 on the evening. Powers also went 2-for-4 in the victory.
Henderson paced the Raider offense by getting on base three times with a pair of singles and was hit by a pinch, plus he drove in three runs, scored once and stole a base. Wyrick and Miller also got on base three times as well with a single and a pair of walks apiece.
Barnes and Lyles were the only Mustangs to reach base twice with a single and a free pass for the former and a couple of walks for the latter. Logan Melton drove in Lyles with one Walker Valley run on a fielder’s choice ground ball, while Brian Oliver scored the other thanks to a throwing error on the same play.
Walker Valley 000 000 2 — 2 1 1
Cleveland 113 202 x — 9 11 2
WP: Jake Wyrick (1-1) 7 IP, 15 Ks, 9 BB, 1 hit, 0 ER. LP: John Simmons 1.2 IP, 0 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 4 hits, 2 ER. RBI: Logan Melton (WV); Michael Henderson 3, Nick Miller 2, Taylor Thompson, Kimsey Bell, Ryan Adkins (C). Highlights: Kamren Barnes 1-3, BB (WV); Henderson 2-3, HBP, 3 RBI, r, SB; Thompson 2-4, RBI, r; Eric Powers 2-4, r; Wyrick, 1-2, 2 BB, 2 r; Miller 1-2, 2 BB, 2 RBI, r (C). Records: Walker Valley 9-9, 5-3 District 5-AAA; Cleveland 10-8, 4-2 District 5-AAA.