HV edges Unaka

By Tim Chambers

   Baseball, apple pie and Unaka versus Happy Valley. It just doesn't get any better than watching two longtime rivals go toe to toe in a classic baseball game.
   Monday afternoon at Cannon-Gouge Park, each team lived up to its billing as being among the top dogs in the area.
   Behind a gutsy pitching performance from Tim Whaley and a masterful relief job from Todd Caldwell, the Warriors slipped past Unaka 6-5.
   "I am very proud of Tim," said Warrior skipper Greg Hyder. "We're not as deep pitching wise as in the past, but Tim's a gamer."
   "He came back from throwing seven innings on three days rest and did a super job. Unaka has a very good team and I respect the job that Coach (Mike) Ensor does with that baseball program."
   Unaka had a chance to score in the first inning as Tee Blevins and Brent Huskins collected singles but were left stranded on the basepaths. Happy Valley tallied two runs in the first, with Ryan Garland reaching on an error and scoring on a single by Whaley.
   A double by Ryan Toney was followed by an RBI single from Jordy Harrison, scoring Whaley. Toney was caught in a rundown for the third out, giving Happy Valley a 2-0 lead.
   Unaka tied the score in the second as Travis Pasquale lined a double followed by a solid single from Daniel McInturff that scored Pasquale. Tyler McCann walked followed by a RBI one bagger from Blevins to tie the score.
   Happy Valley took a 3-2 lead in the third as Caldwell singled followed by a walk to Whaley. Jordy Harrison stroked a single to the outfield to score Caldwell.
   The Warriors scored another in the fourth as Drew Davis reached on an error and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Another error followed by a single off the bat of Caldwell put the Valley up 4-2.
   Unaka battled back even in the fourth inning as McCann walked and advanced to second when Cody Collins' sacrifice bunt was misplayed, placing runners at second and third. Rusty Chambers then ripped an RBI single to right tying the score at 4-4.
   The Warriors regained the lead in the fifth inning as Whaley sent a breaking ball over the creek and onto Truman Clark's property for a home run and 5-4 advantage.
   "I trying to fulfill the leadership roll," said Whaley, the lone senior on the squad. "We have some juniors that I look up to, Jordy (Harrison), Ryan (Toney), and others. I was just looking for a pitch to drive and hit it well. They have a very good team."
   Happy Valley picked up an insurance run in the sixth as Buchanan reached on an error and scored on a double off the bat of Caldwell. Hyder elected to bring on Caldwell in the sixth with Chambers and Swearingen due up, both hitting from the left side.
   Caldwell got through the sixth with ease but ran into trouble in the seventh. McInturff walked, followed by a 344-foot drive off the left-field wall from shortstop Chad Lewis.
   A remarkable defensive play by leftfielder Drew Davis prevented a possible home run and held Lewis to a single. Collins reached on an error, allowing McInturff to score, closing the gap to 6-5.
   With two runners on and the tying run at second base, Caldwell got Blevins swinging and disposed of Chambers with a nasty curve ball to end the game.
   "Todd is a great pitcher and has maybe the best curve ball I've ever seen from a lefty," said Chambers. "It's been hard with all the basketball stuff going on, but we'll do whatever it takes to get better. Tee pitched an excellent game."
   Caldwell, the winning pitcher in relief, batted 3-for-4 while Harrison and Whaley had two hits each. Toney added a double.
   Blevins, Huskins and Pasquale had two hits for Unaka while Lewis, Chambers and McInturff had one each.
   "We played good baseball against a very good team," said Unaka coach Mike Ensor. "I don't like to lose but I can live with playing well. Coach Hyder does a great job with Happy Valley.
   "Our hitting will come around when we can get a few off days for batting practice. It's tough when you're playing good teams, but it will help us later in the year."