Warrior wallop Cyclones  behind Toney one-hitter

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   While the sky hung heavy with threatening rain clouds that finally gave way near game's end, Happy Valley's Ryan Toney was sparkling like a diamond in the noon-day sun. The young sophomore hurler pitched a one-hit masterpiece in shutting out the Elizabethton Cyclones by a final of 10-0 in a six-inning game at Cannon-Gouge Field on Thursday evening.
   Toney not only did the job from the hill. He also added a four-RBI, 2-for-4 day at the plate, including a three-run dinger, -- his third homer of the season for Toney -- in a four-run first inning that set the tone for the rest of the game.
   Elizabethton just couldn't find the answer to solve the right-handed hurler, who was only starting in his third varsity game.
   "When you get run support, all you have to do as a pitcher is go out there and throw the ball," said Toney after the impressive outing. "Elizabethton is a big rival and this win was big for us because of the conference race."
   Toney was backed by a team effort by the Warriors as Happy Valley rapped out 12 hits in 25 official at-bats and played an all-around solid contest in every facet of the game from the offensive and defensive side of the plate.
   Todd Caldwell and Ricky Morgan collected two hits on the day for the Warriors, including a double off the bat of Caldwell and a perfectly executed squeeze play by Morgan, who reached safely on the play.
   Zach Stipe was the hard-luck loser for the Cyclones as he lasted for only two and two-thirds of an inning, giving up seven runs on seven hits. Jonathan Crowley came in to finish out the game for the Cyclones and walked Lamar Rollins with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning, allowing Shannon Buchannon to score the final run for the Warriors.
   An inning earlier, Crowley and the Cyclones managed to stave off the Warriors, with Rollins standing on third base with no outs. Crowley and his teammates were able to entice Joe Howell into a line-drive out to short, a fly out to short by Drew Davis, and a fielders-choice play at second from Mitchell Blevins to B.J. Miller on a ground ball from Toney to stay around for another frame.
   For a while it looked like Toney might fire a no-hitter at the Cyclones, but Adam Greenlee ruined the party for Toney as he timed a Toney pitch and drove it to right field for the first and only hit of the game for the Cyclones in the fifth inning.
   The Cyclones only managed one scoring threat in the sixth as Miller drew a walk from Toney and advanced to second on a groundout by Nat Treadway. Miller swiped third base, but Toney was able to get hard-hitting Travis Bowers to hit a long fly ball out to left for the third out.
   "Ryan set the tone for this ballgame and it was really good to see one of our young pitchers have a good outing like this instead of relying on Britton Brummit to win all the games for us," said Warrior chief Greg Hyder. "I was also pleased with the huge squeeze bunt Morgan laid down and the solid play of Caldwell as both boys are only freshmen. Cody Cannon did a great job behind the plate and I think having him back there gives these young pitchers confidence in knowing he is there taking care of business."
   Rollins, Howell, Cannon, Tim Whaley, Jordy Harrison and Cody Whitlock each added one hit in the 12-hit attack by the Warriors. Happy Valley ran its season record to 11-7 overall and 5-5 in the conference after starting the season by losing four straight.
   For Elizabethton, it was another day but the same old song as the Cyclones hitting woes continue in making their season totals 6- 9 overall and 5-2 in conference action while creating nightmares for head coach Steve McKinney.
   "We just haven't been hitting the baseball and I just don't know what else to do because we spend three and a half hours taking batting practice, and then come to the games and just don't hit," said a befuddled McKinney after the game. "You can't take anything away from Happy Valley though because they outplayed and outhustled us, which they always seem to do here on their home field."
   Added McKinney: "Ryan Toney did a great job for them today and I tip my hat to him for the job he did. These kids are so close, so it makes for a big rivalry showed by the fact we split our two games this season, with them winning here and us winning at our place. They have all the tools it takes -- pitching, hitting and speed, which makes for a dangerous ball club in the conference."
   Elizabethton plays Hampton at Joe O'Brien Field tonight at 6 in a makeup game from an earlier ran out in a big conference game for both teams. Elizabethton is looking to snap out of a two-game conference losing streak while Hampton is looking to re-establish themselves in the upper echelon of the conference.
   Happy Valley, meanwhile, has a loaded slate next week with Unicoi County in their sights on Monday.