Walker Valley found some of the hits head baseball coach Joe Shamblin has been looking for and jumped to a quick 5-0 lead over McMinn County. The Mustangs then held off a late charge by the Cherokees to record their fist District 5-AAA by a s 5-4 margin.
Shamblin and the Mustangs were glad to turn the tables on what has been an unfortunate streak of one-run losses.
“This is a good win for us. It’s our first district win, it’s been a tough go so far. It’s a step in the right direction,” said Shamblin as the infield was receiving postgame service. “These guys have been working hard and I have felt bad for them. We finally won a one-run game. I think three of our five losses have been by one run, it’s nice to finally get one of those.”
Walker Valley took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning after a McMinn error, a hit batter and a single by Bradley Smith loaded the bases. An second hit batter scored the first Mustang run. Ryan Shank picked up the second hit of the inning to make it 2-0.
The Mustangs (3-5, 1-3 District 5-AAA) zeroed in on Cherokees’ starting pitcher Chris Derrick in the third with Walker Valley starter leading the way with his first homer of the season, a 354-foot shot to left-center field. Stu Clark, Smith and Elijah West followed with back-to-back-to-back singles and Walker Valley headed back onto the field with a 5-0 lead.
McMinn County (4-4, 2-2) pushed back in the top half of the fifth, scoring four runs in an offensive outburst that sent Shamblin to the mound to pull Simmons in favor of Jake Broome.
Simmons gave up three walks and three singles in the four-run inning before handing the ball to Broome. The Mustang reliever recorded two strikeouts to put an end to the rally.
“John got tired. He hadn’t thrown a whole lot of pitches, but I think he kind of got rattled by some other factors that were happening I think,” Shamblin said of the move. “Our relief guys came in and did a great job of getting us out of some bad situations to close the door on them.”
Simmons got the win recording three K’s during his stint on the hill while giving up five hits and six walks.
With Shamblin going to his reliever corps once again, right-hander Zach Wilcox and the Mustangs were forced in the top of the sixth inning to overcome an eeriely similar situation to one between Bradley Central and Cleveland Monday when a call was reversed well after the play was over.
In Monday’s clash between the Bears and Blue Raiders, a balk call on Cleveland came several minutes after the initial discussion between Bears coach Travis Adams and the umpires. Tuesday night, McMinn County head coach Matt Ray questioned a call at first after an apparent third out on a dazzling stretch and catch by Mustang first baseman Dillan Church.
As the Mustangs headed in to bat, Ray’s pleas resulted in an appeal by the first base official to the home plate umpire resulting in a reversal of the call with all players returning to the last position held when the third out was initially ruled.
An impassioned and heated protest by Shamblin produced no positive results for the Mustangs. The situation was finally made moot when Walker Valley reliever Wilcox got a pop fly to second for the long-awaited third out.
After going down in order in the bottom of the inning, Wilcox and the settled-down Mustangs got three ground ball to lock up the win.
“We had some timely hits tonight and picked up some key walks. Those got us some runs,” said Shamblin.
MUSTANGS 5, CHEROKEES 4
McMinn County 000 040 0 — 4 7 1
Walker Valley 023 000 x — 5 6 1
WP: John Simmons. LP: Chris Derrick. HR: Simmons. Other highlights: Bradley Smith 2-3 (WV). Records: McMinn County 4-4, 2-2 5-AAA; Walker Valley 3-5, 1-3.