Batting first, Walker Valley posted a 4-0 victory to force a second championship game, but when Ooltewah got to go first it claimed the title with an 8-0 final.
“These guys know that when we play Ooltewah anything can happen,” remarked Mustang coach Joe Shamblin after the doubleheader. “We did what we needed to do in the first game to give us a shot at the title, but they did what they needed to do in the second game to win it.”
Both teams advance to the Region 3-AAA Tournament, which opens Monday. Walker Valley (24-11) will make the trip over the mountains to District 6-AAA champion Cookeville (26-7), while Ooltewah (24-12) will play host to Warren County (20-17). It is the third straight region berth for the Mustangs, who advanced to the TSSAA sectional playoffs last season, while the Owls are making their first region appearance since 2009.
Knowing Ooltewah’s offensive prowess against hard-throwing pitchers, coach Shamblin chose to confound the Owls in the first game with lefty Matthew Simmons, who is more of an off-speed, finess style hurler.
The choice proved to be the right one as the senior southpaw responded with a four-hit shutout, striking out a half dozen and walking just one. He did hit three Owls but only allowed two runners to get past second base. Simmons in now 3-0 on the hill with a 1.31 earned run average.
“Matthew (Simmons) had a good outing,” praised coach Shamblin. “He kept them off balance and gave us a chance to sweep (the championship games).”
“We played good defense in the first game and we got nine hits, so our offense looked good,” he added.
The Mustangs picked up three of their four runs in the top of the third when junior Josh Poole doubled to open the at bat and moved to third when senior Jared Broome bunted courtesy runner Austin Scott over.
Senior Bobby Towne followed with a single to drive in the game’s first run. After senior Chris Caffrey stroked a two-out double, both he and Towne came home on an infield single by junior Caleb Longley.
The game’s final run came when senior Jared Broome singled to open the top of the seventh. After moving to second on a groundout, he came the rest away around on a single by Simmons.
Towne led the Mustangs with a pair of hits in the victory, while Logan Longwith and Bradley Smith reached base twice with a double and a walk apiece.
Walker Valley provided some strong defense behind Simmons with junior first baseman Caleb Longley making all three putouts in the third on a pair of difficult pop fouls and saving an error with a tag on a high throw after a ground ball.
Longley and Broome, the Mustang second baseman, teamed up on a pop foul to leave two Owls stranded in the sixth inning. The wind blew the ball away from Longley but as he fell he knocked the ball in the air and Broome snagged it for the out.
Junior right fielder Chase Prince made a nice diving catch on a sinking line drive to end the fourth inning, while Simmons started a nice 1-2-3 double play to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the second frame.
After a short break to groom the field, Ooltewah came out with a vengeance in the final game of the evening, rapping out as many hits (four) in the opening at bat as it did in the previous game.
The Owls scored twice as Troy University signee T.J. Binder stroked a hit to plate Cody Rhinehart, and after Kevin Dupree, who has committed to Tennessee, was plunked, Chase Morrissey roped a double to bring Binder home.
Ooltewah picked up another run in the third when Rhinehart doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Dupree. Morrissey picked up another RBI in the fifth frame while pitcher Drew Williams helped his own cause with a two-run double. The final two runs of the contest came in the sixth as Rhinehart dropped down a two-out bunt for a single and later scored on an error, while Williams later plated Binder, who had been intentionally walked.
Longwith ripped three of the five Mustang hits in the contest, while Caffrey and Jake Ward had the other two. Walker Valley didn’t get a runner past second base as Williams stuck out just two but didn’t walk anybody in the complete-game shutout.
After a sterling performance in the first game, the Mustang defense committed five errors in the nightcap.
OWLS 8, MUSTANGS 0
Ooltewah 201 032 0 — 8 13 1
Walker Valley 000 000 0 — 0 5 5
WP: Drew Williams 7 IP, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 5 H, 0 ER. LP: Jared Broome (7-1) 2.2 IP, 1 K, 2 HBP, 7 H, 3 ER. 2B: Chase Morrissey, Cody Rhinehart, Drew Williams (O). RBI: Morrissey 3, Williams 2, T.J. Binder, Kevin Dupree (O). Highlights: Logan Longwith 3-for-3, Chris Caffrey 1-for-3, Jake Ward 1-for-3 (WV); Drew Toth 3-for-4; Rhinehart 3-for-4, 2B, reached on error, 4 r; T.J. Binder 1-for-1, HBP, IBB, RBI, 2 r; Williams 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI (O). Records: Walker Valley 24-10; Ooltewah 24-12.
MUSTANGS 4, OWLS 0
Walker Valley 003 000 1 — 4 9 0
Ooltewah 000 000 0 — 0 4 1
WP: Matthew Simmons 7 IP, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 3 HBP, 4 H, 0 ER. LP: Jared Ryan 2.2 IP, 1 K, 1 BB, 5 H, 3 ER. 2B: Logan Longwith, Josh Poole, Chris Caffrey, Bradley Smith (WV); Drew Toth (O). RBI: Caleb Longley 2, Bobby Towne, Matthew Simmons (WV). Highlights: Towne 2-for-4, RBI, r; Longwith, 1-for-2, BB, 2B; Smith 1-for-2, BB 2B; Poole 1-for-3, 2B, r; Caffrey 1-for-4, 2B, r; Jared Broome 1-for-2 r (WV). Records: Walker Valley 24-9; Ooltewah 23-12.
All-District 5-AAA Team
Caleb Longley, Bobby Towne, Chris Caffrey, Jared Broome, Matthew Simmons, Logan Longwith — Walker Valley; Jordan Whitmire, Chase Wiseman, Robbie Works — Bradley Central; Robert Parr, Jesse Jones — Cleveland; Hayden Bailey, Jake Leffew, Dalton Rogers, Caden Ricketts — Soddy-Daisy; T.J. Binder, Cody Rhinehardt, Drew Toth, Chase Morrissey, Kevin Dupree — Ooltewah; Jacob Green, Brent Smith — Rhea County; Matt Lingerfelt, Ryan Fowler — McMinn County.