OOLTEWAH — For the second time this season, the baseball Mustangs fell victim to circumstances beyond their control.
An extremely controversial call by the home plate umpire in the top of the sixth inning erased what would have been a tying run and killed a Walker Valley rally that could have reversed a season-ending 3-2 loss to Soddy-Daisy Monday in the District 5-AAA tournament.
The call left Mustang coach Joe Shamblin and Walker Valley fans stunned with disbelief.
“They (WV) fought their butts off and deserve better than what they got tonight," he said as the Mustangs gathered up their gear for the last time in 2014.
Walker Valley had earlier taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on a Tucker Mendenhall single and a double by John Simmons that one-hopped to the left-center field fence.
Soddy tied it up in the bottom of the fourth only to fall behind 2-1 when Elijah West crushed the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence in the top of the fifth.
The Trojans came back to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the inning.
A walk to Brady Swafford in the sixth prompted a pitching change by the Trojans. A second walk and an error loaded the bases for the Mustangs.
The Trojans got a ground ball to shortstop but the bases remained loaded after a force-out at home. West, who earlier put the Mustangs up 2-1, stepped into the box with one out and lifted a fly ball to shallow center. Caden Watson, running for Swafford, raced home on the sacrifice with the apparent tying run after the ball got away from the Soddy catcher.
Soddy coach Jared Hensley called time and walked out of the dugout for a discussion with the home plate umpire. The chat resulted in Watson being called out for leaving third base early. That call brought Shamblin racing in to dispute the decision. Shamblin's pleas went for naught and a subsequent check with the field officials yielded no positive results for the Mustangs.
The result ended the Walker Valley rally, left two Mustangs on base and preserved the Soddy lead.
"It was tough tonight. I've got no comments on that. He (the home plate official) knows he was wrong. That's why I didn't get tossed," said a still-distraught Shamblin.
The Mustangs regrouped to hold Soddy scoreless in the bottom of the inning but could only produce a Simmons single before making three straight outs to close out the season.
"I'm so proud of them. They really came on here at the end of the season. I can't say enough about them," said the Mustangs' coach. "These seniors could have given up back when we were struggling but they fought through it and made us into a pretty decent ball team. I thank them for that."
SODDY 3, MUSTANGS 2
Walker Valley 001 010 0 — 2 4 2
Soddy-Daisy 000 120 x — 3 6 2
WP: Gavin Rogers. LP: Ben Clark. HR: Elijah West (WV). 2B: John Simmons (WV). Highlights: West 2-3 RBI, Simmons 2-3 RBI (WV); Devan DeMatteo 2-3, Rogers 1-3 2 RBI, Dillon Clift 2-3. Records: Walker Valley 12-20; Soddy-Daisy 19-15.