By Matt Myers
The Happy Valley Jr. Warriors implored tenacious pitching and fielding coupled with a fourth-inning offensive surge to capture a 7-1 victory over the Hampton Tuesday night on the Bulldogs’ diamond.
Jr. Warrior pitcher Caleb Jones totaled six strikeouts and profoundly emerged as the leader of a defensive unit that allowed just one single in the first four innings. Ryne Baines got the Jr. Warrior going in the run-production department as the youngster turned in a 2-for-3, 3-RBI performance that proved the young man’s skills are not limited to the hardwood.
The game took on a defensive tone at the outset that would prevail for the entirety of the first three innings. Baines’ first two RBIs, a single to center in the top of the first that drove in Jones and a sacrifice fly at the top of the third with the same effect, stood as the lone testaments to offensive play in the early going.
The pitching of Jr. Bulldog Chris Holtsclaw coupled with the fielding of teammates Austin Vines and Wyatt Lyons kept the Jr. Warrior damage minimal through three.
HV catcher Justin Morefield did his part to keep the Jr. Bulldogs scoreless through three as the youngster threw out two Jr. Bulldog baserunners at second and third in the bottom of the third inning. The two plays, both long, accurate shots, seemed to electrify the Jr. Warrior dugout. The Warriors’ subsequent offensive performance in the fourth inning was non-pareil.
Tyler Hurley’s (1 for 3) line-drive single to center spearheaded the HVMS offensive assault in the fourth inning. Colby McKeehan followed up Hurley’s effort with an RBI single of his own that drove in Duncan Hodge to set the score at 3-0.
A wild pitch from Holtsclaw allowed Hurley to walk in; and Taylor Hurley’s (1 for 3) RBI shot between short and third base put the Jr. Warriors squarely on the warpath and five runs ahead.
A balk and Baines driving in of Taylor Hurley for his third RBI of the day gave the Jr. Warriors a 7-0 lead heading into the final inning.
Although a lead-off walk and singles to center from Lyons and Holtsclaw loaded the bases for the Jr. Bulldogs in the bottom of the fifth, the Jr. Warriors defense once again rose to the occasion and stifled the rally effort. Relief pitcher Forrest Hall led the effort that bent but did not break for the Jr. Warriors.
The team’s ability to close out, as well as their overall defensive effort, were two things that definitely impressed their coach, Daniel Carder.
“You know we were able to remain consistent defensively throughout the game, and we took advantage of the breaks that came our way and did what was necessary on offense. I am happy with that,” said an excited Carder post-game. “We were able to keep up the defensive intensity that got us to this point and Ryne really showed his consistency for us offensively. That just led to great baserunning and we really capitalized on the overall momentum as a team.”
When asked about his team moving forward, Carder was just as enthusiastic.
“We are gearing up for Providence Academy next,” he said. “I am glad we have a chance to have back-to-back conference games, I think it will keep our players sharp. As we move forward we want to have that extra element of competition. We want to start exceeding what we are doing offensively and adjust our hitting to any level of pitching.”
Happy Valley (3-0 conf.) moved to 4-0 on the season while the Jr. Bulldogs slipped to 7-2.
Dustin Sams displayed great pitching when it counted with a seven-K performance that was the backbone of the Jr. Warriors’ 6-5 victory.
Although the Jr. Bulldogs jumped to an early 4-0 lead, HV rallied for six runs in the second inning and held Hampton scoreless until the game was called for darkness in the 4th.