Despite some mental miscues and an early game funk, the Mustangs were able to rally in the late innings to break a tie game and come away with a 4-2 win.
“It felt like Hixson came out ready to play and we were a little flat. We feel fortunate that things turned out the way they did. It could have easily gone the other way,” explained Walker Valley head coach Joe Shamblin.
Hixson challenged in the top of the second, but it was the Mustangs who would ultimately get on the board in the frame after ending a bases-loaded jam.
Logan Longwith kicked things off when he reached on a Wildcat error and then stole second and third. Josh Poole drove him in with a hard-hit RBI double. Austin Scott came in the game to pinch run for Poole and eventually came around to score on another Hixson miscue to bring the tally to 2-0.
The Mustangs had another shot in the third when the bases were loaded with one out. However, two straight pop-ups ended any aspirations of further scoring.
It was the Wildcats turn in the top of the fourth when a leadoff walk turned into a run on one of Walker Valley’s three errors on the night. Another Hixson run crossed the plate during a double play to knot the score at two.
Play was at a deadlock going into the fifth with both teams waiting for someone to step up and take control of the game.
In the bottom of the fifth Caleb Longley stepped up with a towering one-out double that bounced off the wall. Jake Ward reached on a base on balls, and Longley crossed the plate on another Wildcat error for the go-ahead run.
Walker Valley tacked on one more in the bottom of the sixth when Bobby Towne notched a one-out single and stole second before being advanced to third on a sacrifice by Matthew Simmons. Chris Caffrey put an exclamation mark on the game with a hard hit double that drove Towne in and gave the Mustangs some breathing room.
“We hit five or six hard balls to their center fielder and he just made a heck of a play on two or three of them. We had a few guys step up and give us a few timely hits late. We’re trying to see who can help us down the road,” Shamblin stated.
Walker Valley will next turn its sights ahead to a matchup against Cumberland County Monday. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. and the Mustangs will use the opportunity to honor this year’s baseball seniors.
For their last regular season game Walker Valley will head to Baylor on Tuesday before prepping for the District 5-AAA tournament at the end of the week.
The top-seeded Mustangs will kick off their postseason Friday at 8 p.m. with a game against the winner of the Rhea County and Cleveland High School first round matchup.
MUSTANGS 4, WILDCATS 2
Hixson 000 200 0 — 2 4 2
Walker Valley 020 110 x — 4 6 3
WP: Logan Longwith 3 IP, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 2 H, 0 ER. 2B: Josh Poole, Caleb Longley, Chris Caffrey (WV). RBI: Poole, Caffrey (WV). Records: Walker Valley 20-8.