The Mustangs improved their record on the baseball diamond to 10-18 on a warm, sunny Monday afternoon but had to fight to hold onto the 6-4 win after Baylor (13-9) battled back late.
The Mustangs, who appear to be heating up as District 5-AAA tournament time nears, are 2-1 in their last three games and have outscored opponents 16-5.
All season, Walker Valley has had pitching that deserves a better fate. It was no different Monday as senior John Simmons got the win on the hill, throwing four strong innings and giving up only two hits to the Red Raiders. The big Walker Valley righty struck out two and walked two.
Kyle Goins came on in the top of the fifth to finish off the win for the Mustangs, allowing four hits while fanning two.
“You never say you have turned the corner, because as sure as you do, you are in trouble. But I’m proud of how we played the last two games. We even played well against Alcoa Friday, we just didn’t hit the ball well,” said Mustang coach Joe Shamblin. “We played good defense and got good pitching today, and usually when you get two of those three you are going to be all right,”
The Mustangs hit the ground running in the bottom of the first inning, putting three runs on the board after holding Baylor scoreless.
Bradley Smith led off with a single to right field. A double just inside the bag down the third base line by Elijah West put runners on second and third. Smith scored on a fielder’s choice and West made it 2-0 thanks to a Dillan Church single to right center. Stu Clark made it a 3-0 game with the fourth hit of the inning for Walker Valley.
Baylor got one run back in the top of the second.
Walker Valley missed out on a chance to add another run in the bottom of the fourth after leaving a runner stranded at third.
Baylor tacked on another single run in the top of the fifth against Mustangs reliever Goins.
After getting the Red Raiders out in order in the upper half of the sixth, Walker Valley heated up again in the lower portion of the inning.
Bradley Swafford led off with a second Mustang double that hugged the chalk down the left-field line. Tucker Mendenhall followed with a one-out single to advance pinch runner Dallas Kuykendall to third. Goins got the RBI with a sacrifice fly to put the Mustangs out front 4-2. A walk to Smith and a single by West loaded the bases. Simmons stepped to the plate and ripped a single to left scoring Mendenhall and Smith completing the three-run inning for Walker Valley.
The Red Raiders avoided further damage ending the innings with the bases full of Mustangs.
Baylor made it interesting in the top of the seventh, loading the bases on a hit batter, a single and a walk. Goins got out No. 1 with an infield fly to second. The Red Raiders mae it 6-3 with a single and picked up a final run with a sacrifice fly to center before Goins fanned the final batter to preserve the win for the Mustangs.
“It’s the little things,” Shamblin said of the battle to close the win. “We had to fight to get a 6-2 lead. Then he (Goins) hit the first batter then an 0-2 pitch that was supposed to be way off the plate got hit for a line drive up the middle. They had runners on first and second with nobody out ,then bases loaded with nobody out. The way we’ve been in the past, the wheels have come off. I think we’re an improving team and I’m happy about that. Kyle did a good job of gritting his teeth and getting us out of it.
“Our bats were hot. We ended up with nine hits and that is good. We are starting to get a little momentum and we’ve got to carry it over to tournament time.”
The Mustangs will enjoy a three day break and before hosting Cumberland County at WVHS Friday. The first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. Walker Valley will close out the regular season on the road against the Red Raiders Monday at 5 and Tuesday at Chattanooga Central at 7.
MUSTANGS 6, RED RAIDERS 4
Baylor 010 010 2 — 4 6 0
Walker Valley 300 003 x — 6 9 2
WP: John Simmons. SAVE: Kyle Goins. LP: Trey Cantanzaro. 2B: Blake Lane (B); Elijah West, Brady Swafford (WV). Highlights: West 2-4, Tucker Mendenhall 2-4 (WV). Records: Baylor 13-9; Waler Valley 10-18.