“This is a big district sweep for us, putting us in third place, just a game behind Bradley,” expressed a jubilant Joe Shamblin, who is in his seventh season at the Walker Valley head coach. “We just need to take care of business with Soddy-Daisy (the Mustangs’ final 5-AAA regular season opponent) and we should be in good shape for the tournament.”
Snapping a six-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory Monday, the Mustangs completed the sweep with a 9-6 win Tuesday evening at the McKenzie Baseball Complex. Walker Valley is now 12-10 overall and 7-3 in district play, while Bradley slips to 13-6, 6-2.
Ooltewah (16-7, 9-1) took over the 5-AAA lead with a sweep of their own the last two nights, stopping Cleveland (10-12, 4-4) 2-1 and 13-3.
The Owls and Bears will play a key district series on Monday and Tuesday, while Walker Valley doesn’t have a game scheduled next week. Bradley will entertain Notre Dame this evening at 7, plus play at Chattanooga Central on Friday. Weather permitting, the Mustangs are slated to travel to Cumberland County Thursday evening and Boyd-Buchanan Saturday.
After shutting the Bears out on Monday, the Mustangs scored their first seven runs on just a pair of hits Tuesday, the second one being a grand slam home run by senior Caleb Longley.
In a sign of things to come, Walker Valley junior Bradley Smith was hit with the second pitch of the game for the first of 19 combined free passes on the evening. Classmate Kamren Barnes worked the Bear starter for a walk before Lincoln Memorial signee Drew Lyles stroked a two-out single to drive both runs in with the game’s first scores.
Although they got a hit in each of their first two at bats, the hosts didn’t put runs on the board until the third when they charged into the lead with a 5-spot. After the first batter of the at bat grounded out the next seven reached base with either a walk or a single.
After Logan Blackwell walked and scored on a wild pitch, senior Jacob Maynard drove in classmate Brently White and Charles Chavis with a single. Jacob Barnes and Jacob Fowler both followed with run-scoring hits.
Walker Valley answered immediately with a five-run rally off its own. A trio of free passes and a fielder’s choice led to the first run and set the stage for Longley’s long ball that landed deep in the parking lot beyond the left-center field fence. The “grand salami” was the second home run of the season for the Mustang first baseman.
“He’s (Longley) the guy we want up in that situation,” praised coach Shamblin. “He’s a clutch hitter. That’s the kind of thing we expect out of a senior.”
Bradley pulled within a run of the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Jacob Barnes ripped a one-out double into the left-center field gap to bring in Maynard, who had walked and stolen second base.
Walker Valley not only took that run back in the top of the sixth with a sacrifice fly by Josh Poole, but also added an insurance run in the seventh when Logan Melton tripled and then scored on a sac fly by Longley for his fifth RBI of the night.
Bradley got a pair of base runners on in their final two at bats, but Kamren Barnes, who had shut them out the night before, came on in relief and struck out three of the six batters he faced to earn his second save.
“Kamren was begging for the ball. He wanted it long before we gave it to him,” expressed coach Shamblin. “He had a low pitch count Monday (in a complete-game effort), so we felt like he’d be alright and he was.”
Chase Prince picked up the pitching victory with 1 2/3 innings of relief work, striking out three, walking two and scattering three hits to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Longley went 2-for-4, driving in five and scoring twice, while Kamren Barnes reached base four times with a trio of walks and getting “plunked” for the 14th time this season. Melton was 2-for-4 with a triple, plus he reached on an error and scored twice. Lyles was 1-for-3 with a walk, plus he drove in two and gunned down a Bear base runner at the plate with a bullet from left field.
Jacob Barnes went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored to lead the seven-hit Bear attack, while White reached base three times with a single and a pair of walks. Maynard went 1-for-3 with a walk, two RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base.
Bradley captured a 9-8 victory in the junior varsity contest with Brandon Thompson earning the pitching victory, while Tanner Cox, Chandler Duggan and Ty King rapped out a pair of hits apiece.
Ryan Shank and Zack Wilcox both went 2-for-3 and got a free pass for the Mustangs, while Brian Oliver ripped a pair of doubles and drove in four teammates. Josh Bean also had a pair of hits in the contest.
Walker Valley 200 501 1 — 9 5 0
Bradley Central 005 010 0 — 6 7 2
WP: Chase Prince (3-0) 1.2 IP, 3 Ks, 2 BB, 3 hits, 2 ER. LP: Nate Mills (2-3) 3.1 IP, 6 Ks,4 BB, 2 HBP, 1 hit, 6 ER. Save: Kamren Barnes (S, 2) 1.2 IP, 3 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 0, 0 ER. HR: Caleb Longley (WV). 3B: Logan Melton (WV). 2B: Jacob Barnes (B). RBI: Longley 5, Drew Lyles 2,Bradley Smith, Josh Poole (WV); Jacob Maynard 2, Jacob Barnes 2, Jacob Fowler (BC). Highlights: Longley 2-4, GSHR, 5 RBI, 2 runs, SB; Melton 2-4, 3B, reached on error, 2 runs; Kamren Barnes 3 BB, HBP ,run; Bradley Smith, BB, HBP, 2 runs; Lyles 1-3, BB, 2 RBI (WV); Jacob Barnes 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI, run; Maynard 1-3, BB, 2 RBI, run, SB; Brently White 1-2, 2 BB, run (BC). Records: Walker Valley 12-10, 7-3 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 13-6, 6-2 District 5-AAA.