In a near mirror image of the last Friday’s victory that got them their first TSSAA State Baseball Championship berth, senior ace Bobby Towne pitched a complete-game shutout and the Mustangs scored in their final at bat to claim a 1-0 win over seventh-ranked Germantown to advance to today’s winner’s bracket second round.
While Friday’s substate win over sixth-ranked Tullahoma came on a walk-off single by senior Matthew Simmons in the bottom of the eighth inning, Walker Valley courtesy runner Austin Scott came home on the back end of a double steal in the bottom of the sixth for the win Tuesday. The Mustangs then forced the Red Devils to leave two men on base when the final out was recorded in the top of the seventh.
The victory pits Walker Valley (28-11) against Knoxville Bearden (29-12) this afternoon at approximately 2 p.m. The Bulldogs defeated Franklin 7-5 in Tuesday’s opener at Oakland High School. Franklin (26-11) and Germantown (28-13) opened today’s action with an elimination game at 11 this morning.
On the other end of the state bracket being played at Siegel High School, third-ranked Farragut knocked off No. 2 Mt. Juliet 14-10 in a slugfest, while fifth-ranked Arlington downed No. 9 Riverdale 8-2 to advance.
Riverdale (30-11) and Mt. Juliet (38-5) battled in elimination game this morning, while defending state champion Farragut (35-7) and Arlington (30-11) play this afternoon.
The afternoon’s winners advance to the state semifinals Thursday at 4, while the losers must play the winners of this morning’s contests in an elimination game this evening at 7.
After not allowing an earned run throughout the regular season, Towne ran his current streak of scoreless innings to 15 despite pitching on just three days rest Tuesday.
“We were a little concerned about bringing him back so quick, but Bobby said he felt fine and he wanted the ball,”expressed Walker Valley head coach Joe Shamblin. “When your best pitcher wants the ball, you give it to him.”
The Cleveland State signee ran his season record to 10-1 and lowered his earned run average to 0.81 as he struck out nine Red Devils, including four innings where he recorded two Ks each.
After throwing just 89 pitches while limiting Tullahoma to just a pair of hits in eight innings Friday, Towne fired 97 (63 for strikes) while scattering four safeties and handing out a trio of free passes Tuesday. Only one Germantown base runner got past second base.
The only extra-base hit of the contest came off the bat of Andy Fruitt, but the Germantown lead off man was gunned down trying to stretch his two-out double into a triple. With the ball hit in the left-center field gap, Simmons tracked it down, fired to Logan Longwith, who relayed it to third baseman Chris Caffrey, who tagged the sliding Red Devil while flipping over him to end the top of the third inning.
Germantown’s Connor Mahoney (4-3) turned in a sparkling pitching performance as well, allowing just three hits and a walk.
After setting down the first eight Mustangs in order, senior Jared Broome touched the big right-hander for a two-out single in the third, but was stranded at first.
Walker Valley tried to get something going in the fifth frame when senior Jake Ward laced a one-out single and sophomore Bradley Smith drew a walk. However, Mahoney got the next two batters to fly out to end the threat.
Towne opened the bottom of the sixth with a hard single up the middle. When Simmons put down a sacrifice bunt, the Red Devil catcher tried to get Towne at second but air mailed the throw into center field, allowing Towne to reached third base.
With runners on the corners and nobody out, coach Shamblin inserted Scott as a courtesy runner for Towne and then had Simmons go on a delayed steal. When the throw went to second base, Scott broke for home with the game-winning run.
“I felt like we were real patient in our approach and took advantage of what they gave us,” proclaimed Shamblin. “I was a little worried about us being over anxious, but our guys did a good job at the plate and on the base paths.”
Shamblin did get a little concerned in the top of the seventh when Towne walked the leadoff batter. “When I went out there (to talk to Towne) he told me ‘sorry for scaring you coach,’” related Shamblin, who led McMinn Central to third and fourth place finishes at the 2000 and 2001 class AA state tournaments.
Towne struck out the next two batters, but then issued just his second walk of the evening to push the potential tying run to second base. He got the next hitter to fly out to center field to end the contest.
“It’s good to get this first game out of the way, especially with a win,” the Mustang coach commented.
MUSTANGS 1, RED DEVILS 0
Germantown 000 000 0 — 0 4 2
Walker Valley 000 001 x — 1 3 0
WP: Bobby Towne (10-1) 7 IP, 9 Ks, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 0 ER. LP: Connor Mahoney (4-3) 6 IP, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 0 ER. 2B: Andy Fruitt (G). Records: Germantown 28-14; Walker Valley 28-11.