Caldwell, Warriors spill Bulldogs

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   Todd Caldwell owned Bulldog Field on Tuesday.
   After an 8-0 lead going into the third inning, the Hampton Bulldogs succumbed to tough defense and pitching from the Happy Valley Warriors, and Caldwell.
   The Warriors rallied behind an array of scoring, including a crushing grand slam from the freshman, to come back with the 16-8 victory over the Bulldogs.
   The victory was Happy Valley's first conference win of the season and its second straight comeback after battling from a 13-0 deficit to beat Sullivan East.
   "East had us 13-0 and we battled back and got them," said Happy Valley coach Greg Hyder. "We're not starting with intensity. We've not been doing well in the conference. Hampton came out with a lot of intensity, and we had opportunities early. This is a tough place to come play every year."
   Caldwell finished 5-of-6 on the day with a double and three singles adding to his towering slam through the right field greens, netting six RBIs and three runs to the Warrior cause.
   He only gave up two hits in his five innings on the mound, including six strikeouts.
   "He went five of six and picked up the pitching win," said Hyder. "It was an outstanding effort all around and his grand slam was the turning point in the game and it gave him a lift on the mound."
   "I tried to go out there and help the team out," Caldwell said. "We started slow, but we began to hit it good late."
   Hampton used two double plays to hold the Warriors scoreless in the first two innings of play.
   The Bulldogs gave Happy Valley's starting pitcher, Michael Holmes, a fit on the mound during the two frames, racking up enough offense to boost them throughout the game.
   Hampton scored four runs in the first inning, courtesy of three walks, a double from Justin Waycaster and sacrifice flies from Adam Miller and Dustin Crumley.
   The blue and white continued their dominance in the second round, with an errored shot from Eric Swain and four walks dragging the runs around the bases after a Waycaster fielder's choice and a Crumley sacrificed fly.
   Happy Valley began to open up in the third inning, with singles from Caldwell, Ricky Morgan, Tim Whaley and Ryan Toney helping pull five runs across the plate.
   They backed it up with a big two-run single from Toney and an errored shot from Ryan Garland, dishing out two runs to take a 9-8 lead.
   The Warriors battled through four Hampton pitchers on the afternoon and continued scoring in the sixth and seventh innings behind the Caldwell grand slam after hits from Joe Howell and Jordy Harrison.
   Said Caldwell: "I tried to go for it. I saw that the bases were loaded and I wanted to get some runs in for the team."
   Cody Cannon followed up five walks on the day with a two-run single in the seventh to score Lamar Rollins and Shannon Buchanan after a Caldwell RBI single. Caldwell struck out three in the final frame to take the 16-8 victory over the Bulldogs.
   Joe Howell and Ryan Toney both contributed two hits apiece to Happy Valley's cause.
   "We had to break the slate and get out of the bottom," Hyder said of Happy Valley's first conference win. "Maybe we can build off this and move on. We had good defense and hit the ball well."
   "We've got to continue this," he said. "This is a never-say-die team, but we don't want to be in this situation again."
   The Bulldogs face Volunteer on Thursday, while the Warriors travel to Johnson County for a big conference game today before rounding out the week at Unaka and Volunteer.