Such has not been the case so far for Walker Valley, which has yet to commit an error, has gotten strong pitching, plus has rapped out 34 hits and scored 35 runs in just three games.
Recording their third victory in as many days Thursday night, Coach Joe Shamblin’s Mustangs posted a 16-run inning to highlight a 19-3 victory over Sweetwater as co-hosts of the inaugural Richard Edwards Memorial Playing for a Cure Classic.
“Usually pitching is ahead of batting at the start of a season, but we’ve done both well, plus our defense has been great,” coach Shamblin assessed.
“We had an opportunity today to give a couple of guys (Elijah West and Logan Melton) a chance to start who hadn’t yet, and they both went 2-for-3 and drove in multiple runs,” the Mustang mentor added.
Walker Valley, which made a run to the TSSAA state semifinals last spring, will be back in action this afternoon at 4:30 as Powell comes to Mike Turner Field.
The Mustangs will wrap up the tournament Saturday, facing Knox Catholic at 2:30 and CAK at 7:30.
In Thursday’s opening tournament game at WVHS, Notre Dame defeated CAK 2-1.
The nightcap started a little rocky for the hosts as Sweetwater jumped on starter Stuart Clark for five hits and a pair of runs in the opening at bat.
However the sophomore right hander found his groove and allowed just one more hit over the next three innings to earn his first varsity victory.
“I was a little nervous at first, but Stuart (Clark) settled down and did a good job for us,” praised coach Shamblin. “He is usually around the strike zone and so is (Zach) Wilcox, who came in for the last inning.”
Clark finished with four strikeouts and a pair of walks, and gave up six hits and three earned runs in four innings on the hill.
Wilcox didn’t give up a hit in the fifth frame, but did plunk the leadof2f batter. He later picked him off second base before getting the final Wildcat batter to go down swinging.
After a pair of scoreless at bats to open the contests, Walker Valley finally got on the board in the third inning in a big way.
The Mustangs batted around twice with Austin Scott starting the rally by beating out a bunt and going to second base on the first of five Wildcat errors in the frame.
Senior Caleb Longley had a pair of hits, including a double, to drive in three runs to highlight the rally, while Melton also plated a trio of teammates with two hits in the frame.
West helped out with a two-run single, plus reached on an error that brought in a couple more runs.
Chase Prince had a pair of RBI-walks, while Kamren Barnes — who has only had four official at bats in the first three games, but has been hit five times and drawn a walk this season — reached base twice with his courtesy runner scoring both times during the streak.
LMU signee Drew Lyles scored twice and drove home a pair during the rally, one with a single and the other when he was hit by a pitch.
Scott and Bradley Smith also scored twice during the bottom of the third, during which the second out was not recorded until a Scott flyout in his third at bat of the inning.
The Mustangs bench added more runs in the bottom of the fourth when Ryan Mahaffey beat out an infield hit and later scored on a single by John Simmons, who came home on a hit by Ryan Shank. Brian Oliver drew a walk and later scored on a wild pitch.
“We got a chance to get a lot of people in the game and get a little experience, which this type of game allows you to do,” remarked coach Shamblin. “We had a lot of different people contribute to this win.”
Sweetwater 201 00 — 3 6 5
Walker Valley 00(16) 3x — 19 12 0
WP: Stuart Clark (1-0) 4 IP, 4 Ks, 2 BB, 6 hits, 3 ER; LP: Dillon Rollins (0-1) 3.1 IP, 0 Ks, 2 BB, 3 HBP, 5 hits, 5 ER. 2B: Caleb Longley (WV). RBI: Longley 3, Logan Melton 3, Elijah West 2, Drew Lyles 2, Chase Prince 2, Josh Poole, John Simmons, Ryan Shank (WV). Highlights: Longley 2-3, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 r; Melton 2-3, 3 RBI, r; West 2-3, 2 RBI, r; Lyles 1-2, HBP, 2 RBI, 2 r; Zach Wilcox 1 IP, 1 K, 1 HBP, 0 hits, picked runner off second (WV). Records: Sweetwater 0-1; Walker Valley 3-0.