OOLTEWAH — One of the constant truths in sports is “if you don’t score, you don’t win.”
That proved accurate again Thursday evening as sixth-seeded Walker Valley outhit No. 3 Soddy-Daisy 7-5, but where it counts the most, the Trojans posted a 3-0 victory in the opening round of the District 5-AAA Baseball Tournament a A.C. “Bud” Ball Field.
“We got guys on base, but we just couldn’t string any hits together at the right time,” commented Mustang coach Joe Shamblin. “I’m proud of the way our guys stuck in there and fought the whole game. Early in the season if we got down by three runs early (first two innings) like that, we’d give up. We didn’t do that tonight.”
Walker Valley (10-19) will now face the loser of tonight’s battle between second-seeded Bradley Central (17-11) and No. 7 McMinn County (11-16). The Bears and Cherokees will start off the second evening of the tournament at 5 p.m., while the host Ooltewah (17-12) squad, which defeated Cleveland High 7-4 Thursday night (see related story), will face top-seeded East Hamilton (21-13) at 8.
The Mustangs will take on the Bear-Cherokee loser at 4 Saturday afternoon, while the Bradley-McMinn victor will tangle with Soddy-Daisy at 1 p.m. Due to rain washing out the first scheduled day of the event, the tournament will hold a trio of games Sunday with a pair of elimination games at 1 and 4 p.m., before the winner’s bracket final at 7.
Walker Valley knew it had a “tough row to hoe,” having dropped a pair of games to Soddy-Daisy to open the season, plus facing Trojan ace Christian Amos, who had given up just one earned run all year.
The hard-throwing right-hander brought an unbeaten record (4-0) and 0.28 earned run average into the contest and fired 71 of his 105 pitches into the strike zone while going the distance for the shutout and improving his pitching mark to 5-0 on the campaign. Amos struck out seven and issued just one base on balls, while scattering the seven Mustang hits.
“Their (Soddy’s) pitcher was good, but other than one inning, John (Simmons) matched him,” assessed Coach Shamblin. “John did a great job, but we made a few mistake behind him. I hate that he pitched so well and we couldn’t do more for him.”
Despite striking out nine, Simmons slipped to 3-4 on the year after issuing five free passes, three of which came in the second inning and resulted in a pair of earned runs, plus he allowed five hits.
The Mustangs started out the game with back-to-back singles by Bradley Smith and Elijah West on Amos’ first two pitches. However, a fielder’s choice, a strikeout and a runner getting thrown out at the plate, after Ben Clark stroked the third single of the half inning, ended the threat.
Simmons then quickly set down the first two Trojan batters in the bottom of the first, but a high fly ball by Dillon Clift got lost in the sun and dropped in, allowing him to get to second base. Two batters later Andy Wright laced a single and Clift stopped at third base, but when the ball was booted in the outfield, he raced home for the game’s first score.
After a two-out double by Mustang catcher Brian Oliver went for naught in the top of the second, Soddy took advantage of a trio of walks and an RBI-single by Dev DeMatteo to plate the game’s other two runs. From that point on Simmons allowed just three more base runners, while Amos only surrendered four in the game’s final five frames.
Walker Valley missed an opportunity in the fourth inning when Stu Clark and Brady Swafford had back-to-back two-out singles, plus the Mustangs couldn’t “make hay” from Simmon’s single to lead off the top fo the sixth. Amos’ only walk of the contest came to Oliver with one out in the seventh, but his courtesy runner never left first base as a strikeout and fly ball to left field ended the contest.
The seven Mustang hits came from seven different bats. Oliver’s double was the only extra-base hit while Smith, West, Simmons, Swafford, Ben and Stu Clark each stroked singles.
District 5-AAA Tournament
Walker Valley 000 000 0 — 0 7 1
Soddy-Daisy 120 000 x — 3 5 0
WP: Christian Amos (5-0) 7 IP, 8 K’s, 1 BB, 7 hits, 0 ER; LP: John Simmons (3-4) 6 IP, 9 K’s, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 5 hits, 2 ER. 2B: Brian Oliver (WV); Dillon Clift (SD). RBI: Dev DeMatteo (SD). Highlights: Oliver 1-2, 2B, BB (WV); DeMatteo 1-2, BB, RBI; Gavin Rogers 1-2, HBP; Caden Ricketts 1-2, BB, SB, run (SD). Records: Walker Valley 10-19; Soddy-Daisy 17-14.