Warriors cruise past Bulldogs

By Matt Hill

STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   In the movies, the action usually heats up at the end. But Thursday's Hampton-Happy Valley game was definitely proof that baseball is a game, and not a motion picture.
   The Warriors scored six runs in the first inning, then cruised the rest of the way to a 9-1 victory over the Bulldogs at Cannon-Gouge Park.
   "It's about the fourth game in a row we've scored some early," Happy Valley head coach Greg Hyder said. "Pitching finished the deal today, and we made the plays. But in the middle part of the game we didn't hit it at all. That's one thing we've got to get better at. We need to try to score every inning."
   Happy Valley didn't need a whole lot of run support after the first inning with freshman Ryan Toney on the mound.
   Toney gave up only five hits, and held the Bulldogs scoreless after Hampton scored the first run of the game in the top of the first.
   "I thought he did a great job," Hyder said. "He's got good stuff, and he's just looking for an opportunity to start. He's been wanting it, and he got it today. He did a great job."
   Toney admitted he had some jitters coming in, but had confidence in his teammates in the field to make the plays.
   "I was just nervous," Toney said. "I was just trying to throw strikes because I knew the field could back me up."
   Hampton scored a run in the top of the first, but saw things fall apart in the bottom half of the inning.
   The Warriors were leading 2-1 when Tim Whaley came up with a big single to score Shawn Baer and pinch-runner Shannon Buchanan. This made it a 4-1 lead, but Happy Valley wasn't finished.
   The Warriors scored two more runs when Lamar Rollins was hit by a pitch, and after Cody Whitlock walked with the bases loaded.
   Happy Valley scored those six runs on only three hits.
   "We couldn't throw it in the ocean," Hampton head coach Scotty Bunton.
   There was a light at the end of the tunnel for Hampton. Eric Swain came on in relief in the first inning, and stopped the Warrior onslaught.
   Swain continued pitching well throughout the game, and held the Warriors scoreless until the sixth inning.
   "He did a good job, we just didn't hit it," Bunton said. "What we hit was straight at them."
   The Bulldogs had the bases loaded in the second and seventh, but Toney was able to get out of every jam that was thrown at him.
   "They put the bat on the ball," Hyder said about Hampton. "We made some plays behind him, but he didn't walk many. I'm proud of him for that. You've got to make them hit it."
   The Warriors put the icing on the cake in the bottom of the sixth, as Cody Cannon hit a two-run homer to bring the game to its final score of 9-1.
   "I think that's four or five this year," Hyder said. "He's got some pop. He's a pretty darn good hitter."
   Seven different Warriors had hits on the day. Rollins made his way on base all four times he was up at the plate.
   Ryan Deskins had two hits to lead the Bulldogs. Moss also had a nice day, as he got on base every time he was up.
   "That's what he's there for," Bunton said. "That's what he's supposed to do. I can't get him moved around. I can't get the guys to hit behind him yet."
   Happy Valley will be back in action against Unaka on Saturday, while Hampton plays host Mitchell County, N.C. this afternoon.
   GAME NOTES:
   * Rollins stole home in the first inning on a throw by Hampton catcher Dustin Crumley to second.
   * Rollins, Whitlock and Baer all batted twice in the first inning for the Warriors. Overall, Happy Valley sent 12 men to the plate in the opening frame.