Rough start for Walker Valley baseball
by RICHARD ROBERTS Banner Sports Editor
Mar 11, 2014 | 774 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print

WALKER VALLEY starting pitcher John Simmons throws to first baseman Dillon Church as a Soddy-Daisy runner dives back to the bag during 3-AAA baseball action Monday, at Walker Valley.  Banner photo, LYNNAE ROBERTS
WALKER VALLEY starting pitcher John Simmons throws to first baseman Dillon Church as a Soddy-Daisy runner dives back to the bag during 3-AAA baseball action Monday, at Walker Valley. Banner photo, LYNNAE ROBERTS
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It’s not the way Walker Valley wanted to start the 2014 baseball season, but head coach Joe Shamblin is confident the young Mustangs will grow up quickly and improve daily.

“It’s not the way we wanted to start, but you look for signs early in the year. The boys battled hard and never quit. We had the lead late and made some youngster mistakes,” Shamblin said of the 4-2 loss to Soddy-Daisy. “But that’s stuff we’ll correct tonight and I’d say those things won’t happen ever again. That’s just the way it goes.

John Simmons, one of three seniors in the Walker Valley lineup, left after five innings of quality work in the no-decision appearance. The big right-hander gave up only three hits, struck out five Trojans, walked two and left the hill with a 2-1 lead before the late-inning rally by the Trojans nullified his bid for an opening day win. Freshman Brady Swafford took the loss after coming on in the top of the sixth.

Christian Amos got the win for Soddy coming on in relief of starter Hunter Maynor to start the bottom of the fifth for the Trojans.

Maynor fanned six and gave up no walks but did hit one Mustang. Amos struck out five Mustangs, walked two and hit one.

The Trojans (1-0, 1-0 District 5-AAA) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth. After a single and a walk, the Soddy runners moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt. The Trojans put the first run on the board on a hard-hit squeeze bunt that turned into an RBI single.

The Mustangs (0-1, 0-1) came back in the bottom half of the inning to take a 2-1 lead.

With two outs and a runner on third, sophomore designated hitter Ben Clark took a 2-1 pitch over the 345-foot sign in left-center field to put Walker Valley out front.

Clark reached again in the bottom fifth with a double to right field.

Simmons battled control problems in the top half of the fifth, walking the first two batters and prompting a visit from Shamblin. The Mustang hurler took the count to 3-2 for the third time in the inning before getting the strikeout. Simmons followed up with two shallow pop-ups to first and second to preserve the lead before retiring for the night.

“John did a great job. He left with the lead. He threw 91 pitches — it’s early in the year and you don’t want to do things to hurt him. He’s going to be a force for us and we’re glad he’s on our team,” said Shamblin of his ace.

The Trojans took advantage of Swafford in the upper half of the sixth, scoring two runs on three singles and an error to lead 3-2.

Soddy-Daisy scored once more in the top of the sixth and reliever Amos fanned two of the three Mustangs he faced in the bottom of the seventh to lock up the win for the Trojans.

“These guys are getting better every day. That’s why I’m tickled about this group,” said the Mustangs coach. “They’re working hard and coming out ready to practice every day, and I’m thankful for them.”

TROJANS 4, MUSTANGS 2

Soddy-Daisy 000 102 1 — 4 9 2

Walker Valley 000 200 0 — 2 5 1

WP: Christian Amos. LP: Brady Swafford. HR: Ben Clark (WV); 2B: Clark (WV). Other highlights: Amos 3-4, 3 RBIs (SD); Clark 2-3, 2 RBIs (WV).

Records: Soddy-Daisy 1-0, 1-0; Walker Valley 0-1, 0-1.