With a steady wind blowing in from the north and the thermometer dipping into the low 40s, the going was slow early.
"It affects both teams. Both teams were sluggish at first trying to get everything going," said Walker Valley coach Joe Shamblin. "It's tough for them to play in weather like this, but there are no excuses. I told our guys before the game both teams have to play in it, so it's even."
Right-hander Jake Ward got the win for Walker Valley, tossing five solid innings. The senior hurler gave up only two hits and walked two while recording three strikeouts before handing the leather over to John Simmons in the bottom of the sixth.
The Mustangs got all the runs they needed in the top of the first. With a strong breeze blowing from left field to right before shifting from center to home, Bradley Smith and Caleb Longley reached base and scored on a Josh Pool single.
McMinn County countered with a run in the bottom of the inning. Weak play by the Walker Valley infield and a bases-loaded hit batter made it a 2-1 game. Ward stopped further damage by the Cherokees on a throw to third to catch a McMinn County runner off base for the second out. A ground ball to second ended the inning and preserved the 2-1 Walker Valley lead.
"We screwed up a couple of bunt coverages, which is uncharacteristic of us," Shamblin said of the mental miscues. "That is the first thing we will do in practice, work on that again. We worked on it quite a bit in the preseason, but for whatever reason we've got a couple of kids in different positions now, so maybe they are just not as familiar as they should be with it.
The Mustangs added a single run in the third when Longley singled and scored on a Drew Lyles sacrifice fly.
The Mustangs wasted a Longley double in the fifth and held onto a 3-1 lead headed into the sixth.
Poole led off the eight-run inning with the first of six doubles and was followed two batters later by Chase Prince who singled to center. From there, the Mustangs cranked out five straight doubles and back-to-back singles. Elijah Haynie started the run of two-baggers with a shot down the left-field line. Logan Russell, Smith, Longley and Lyles all pounded out doubles. Poole and Jake Ward closed out the impressive run with consecutive singles scoring Karmen Barnes who reached after being hit by a pitch.
"Their pitcher did a really good job there for a while. We finally got on him. He was throwing too many pitches and their coach got him out. We did what we were supposed to do when they bring in a relief pitcher. It was good to see our bats come to life," said Shamblin.
With the Mustangs holding a comfortable 11-1 lead, Shamblin sent Simmons to the mound to close it out for Walker Valley. The junior righty got a ground ball to third and two strikeouts to seal the victory.
The Mustangs take the field again tonight at home against Sweetwater in the Richard Edwards Cure for Cancer Tournament. The first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Walker Valley 201 008 — 11 16 0
McMinn County 010 000 — 1 2 1
WP: Jake Ward (1-0); LP: Daniel Triplett. 2B: Caleb Longley (2), Bradley Smith, Drew Lyles, Josh Poole, Elijah Haynie, Logan Russell (WV). Other highlights: Smith 2-4, Longley 3-4, Poole 3-4, Chase prince 2-4 (WV). Records: Walker Valley 2-0, 2-0 District 5-AAA; McMinn County 0-2, 0-2.