"We swung the bats hot tonight. Even on the outs we made tonight we hit some balls hard. That's good to see. I told them to stay patient and we would get our bats going. It seems like the bats are coming alive at a good time," Walker Valley coach Joe Shamblin said of the Mustangs' 11-hit night.
Mustangs lefty Drew Lyles got the win for Walker Valley, although the senior hurler worked only 1 1/3 innings before being lifted with two out in the second. Hunter Carter took the loss for the Wildcats.
Walker Valley got the first break of the game and scored more than enough runs in the bottom of the first inning.
A line shot off the bat of lead-off hitter Bradley Smith was snagged by Polk second baseman Andrew Aldrige. But, a subsequent catcher's interference call erased the out and gave the Mustangs their first base runner of the night.
Logan Melton followed with a single and Caleb Longley loaded the bases with the second single of the inning. "Big Bad" John Simmons and Lyles added singles to put the Mustangs up 2-0. Josh Poole's sacrifice fly made it 3-0. Two more singles by Chase Prince and Elijah West put Walker Valley up by a half dozen runs.
"We gave up the big inning. We came out flat and gave them a touchdown," said Wildcats coach Michael Carter. "That's on me for not having those guys ready to play. When you give it to a team that has more talent than you do right off the bat, you're in a hole you are not going to come out of. It was a tough day at the plate, a tough day in the field and tough on the mound."
The Wildcats cut it to 6-2 in the top of the second. Lyles walked three and hit one sending Shamblin to the mound to replace his starter with Simmons. The big right-hander got a fielder's choice and ground ball to first to end the inning for Polk.
"We had one hit late by a freshman and that's all it was offensively. It’s nothing we haven't seen, you just have to tip your hat to their guy (Simmons). He just threw it over the plate," said Carter. "If we're not performing at the plate the way be should, that's on me. That's my fault for not having my guys ready to go and prepared to hit guys who throw the ball in the strike zone."
Simmons struck out the side in the fourth, but it took the Mustangs until the bottom of the fifth to add to their lead.
Carter, thinking ahead to next week's district games, pulled his starter in favor of senior Justin Brown. The Polk lefty gave up a single to Logan Melton and a double to right-center field to Longley. Melton trotted home on a Lyles’ sacrifice fly and Longley made it 8-2 after racing home on a wild pitch.
Ben Norwood broke up the collective Walker Valley no-hitter with a two-out single to left, but the Wildcat was left standing when Simmons whiffed the next batter for the third out.
The Mustangs added icing to the cake in the sixth after West walked and later scored on a wild pitch. Pinch hitter Tyrus Hamrick followed with a walk, Bradley Smith singled and both scored on a Melton single and Polk error. The final run of the night later trotted home on a bases-loaded walk to make the final 12-2.
"I'm pleased. I think things are starting to come around and the kids are starting to buy into the hitting. I'm pleased with everything and if we get our defense to shore it up a little bit and get some guys on the mound to come around for us I think we'll be all right. But that's a big if," Shamblin said of the hot-hitting Mustangs.
The Mustangs have an extended break next week and will not be back in action until they take to the diamond Thursday against the Wildcats in Benton before traveling to Decatur to face the Meigs County Tigers on Friday. Both games are scheduled for 5 p.m. starts.
MUSTANGS 12, WILDCATS 2
Polk County 020 000 — 2 1 2
Walker Valley 600 024 —12 11 2
WP: Drew Lyles. LP: Hunter Carter. 2B: Caleb Longley (WV). Other highlights: Logan Melton 3-4 3 runs, 2 rbi, Longley 3-4 (WV). Records: Polk County 8-12-1; Walker Valley 14-10.