In a game that had a pair of 15-minute delays, the first for the umpires to look up a rule and the second after the stadium lights went out, the Walker Valley senior struck out eight while firing a five-hit shutout. He also went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI, to knock county-rival Bradley Central from atop the District 5-AAA standings.
“Kamren pitched a great game,” praised Walker Valley head coach Joe Shamblin after the 4-0 victory. “The delays didn’t bother him at all. In fact, I think he was stronger after them. There’s no way I was going to pull him (due to the delays). I would have had to fight him to get him off the mound.”
The victory marked the first time in a half dozen years the Mustangs defeated the Bears at Mike Turner Field.
The outcome also tightened the district race, with Ooltewah (15-7, 8-1) moving into first place by percentage points (.889-.857) ahead of Bradley (13-5, 6-1).
Walker Valley (11-10, 6-3) and Cleveland (10-11, 4-3) are also tied in the loss column, but the Mustangs have two more district wins.
The Mustangs and Bears will tangle again this evening at the McKenzie Baseball Complex, with a 7 p.m. first pitch, while the Blue Raiders will travel to Ooltewah after being nipped 2-1 by the Owls Monday evening.
Walker Valley’s offense gave Barnes an early lead, scoring a run in the bottom of the first without benefit of a hit.
After the lead-off batter grounded out, senior Caleb Longley and Barnes were hit by back-to-back pitches before junior John Simmons drew a walk to load the bases. Lincoln Memorial signee Drew Lyles then lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to bring in Longley.
After the two teams couldn’t get a run home during the next two innings, the Mustangs rallied for their second run in the bottom of the fourth.
Lyles led off the at bat with a single to left and moved to second on a walk to Josh Poole. He scored when junior Logan Melton, who went 2-for-3 on the night, came through with a two-out solid single to left.
The hosts added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth when Melton, junior Bradley Smith, Longley and Barnes opened the at bat with four straight singles, the last of which brought Melton in to score.
Simmons drew a bases-loaded walk to push Smith across for the other RBI. Longley reached base three times in the contest, going 1-for-2 with a walk and getting “beaned.”
Improving to 4-1 on the season, Kamren Barnes was in command on the hill for the Mustangs, as the only Bear batter to get past second base was Jacob Barnes, who opened the bottom of the second with a single to right that got away from the fielder for a two-base error.
Kamren Barnes, who at one point sat down 13 Bears in a row, had a three-hitter going into the final frame, before Jacob Maynard and Jacob Fowler both singled to give the visitors two men on for the only time in the contest.
Maynard was the only Bear with multiple hits, going 2-for-3. He also suffered his first pitching loss of the season after four straight wins, giving up three hits and a half dozen free passes in 3 2/3 innings. Kentucky transfer Chris Miller was a bright spot for Bradley as the senior lefty came on to get the first out in the bottom of the sixth with three straight strikeouts in a bases-loaded, no-out situation.
“We only got two lead-off batters on. We didn’t come through with the hits when we needed them,” declared Bear head coach Travis Adams. “Give Walker Valley credit. They got some balls to fall in and (Kamren) Barnes kept us on our heels. We didn’t play with any fire.”
On the other hand, coach Shamblin was pleased with the outcome. “We played the way we are capable of playing. I’m glad to see us put up a good, well-rounded game. We got great pitching, good defense and good hitting. We were also patient at the plate (drawing seven walks, plus a pair of ‘plunks’).”
In the junior varsity game, Walker Valley got a strong 14-strikeout pitching performance from Elijah Haynie in a 2-1 victory. The sophomore gave up just three hits in a complete-game effort.
Stuart Clark provided the Mustang offense with a two-run hit in the opening inning to score Ryan Shank and Zack Wilcox. Clark, Wilcox, Hunter Lowe and Caden Watson each went 1-for-2 in the win with Wilcox also drawing a walk.
Bradley scored in the fifth inning when Austin Calfee came home on a throwing error after reaching base on a single. Ty King went 2-for-3 with a double and a single for the Bears.
Bradley Central 000 000 0 — 0 5 0
Walker Valley 100 102 x — 4 8 1
WP: Kamren Barnes (4-1) 7 IP, 8 Ks, 1 BB, 5 hits, 0 ER. LP: Jacob Maynard (4-1) 3.2 IP, 2 Ks, 4 BB, 2 HBP, 3 hits, 2 ER. RBI: Drew Lyles, Kamren Barnes, Logan Melton, John Simmons (WV). Highlights: Maynard 2-3 (BC); Kamren Barnes 2-3, RBI; Melton 2-3, RBI, run; Caleb Longley 1-2, BB, HBP, run; Simmons 2 BB, RBI (WV). Records: District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 13-5, 6-1 District 5-AAA; Walker Valley 11-10, 6-3.