Happy Valley coaxes Bucs into 5-3 loss

By Marvin Birchfield

   After trailing through the first two frames of action, Happy Valley came back to post a 5-3 victory over University High at Cannon-Gouge Park on Saturday.
   The Jr. Bucs had a one-run advantage heading into the bottom of the third, but problems at the mound resulted into the Warriors scoring four unanswered runs.
   "We lost the ball game because we walked in three runs, and we didn't win because we made some base-running blunders which could have got us back in the game," said University High coach Joe Borden.
   University High took the early advantage in the first inning, after a couple of hits and runs gave them a 2-1 lead.
   A hit down the right-field line from John Sams drove in Daniel Smith, and a ground-out by Garrison Barton enabled Josh Fields to score.
   "I'm as pleased as you can be and still lose," said Borden. "We made no errors in the field, and that is two straight games we have played errorless ball."
   The Warriors cut the lead in half in the bottom of the frame, after Ryan Toney made a hit to shallow center field to bring home Lamar Rollins.
   The Jr. Bucs were in great position in the second frame, as two runners were on base with just one out.
   A good fielding play Joe Howell with a tag and throw to first base eliminated the Bucs' chances of advancing their runners.
   Happy Valley squandered its opportunity as well, after getting a double from Scottie Arwood on the lead-off hit.
   Being faced with one out, Cody Whitlock popped up the bunt attempt to third baseman Drew Harrell, and he made the throw back to third to catch the runner out coming home.
   The Warriors recovered in the third frame, after committing an error and walk to start the inning with the execution of their second double-play of the game.
   The Jr. Bucs were not as fortunate in the frame, as they had trouble from the mound, which resulted in four runs being scored for the Warriors.
   A great fielding job from Drew Harrell off a hard-hit ball from Rollins was diminished by a rushed throw, which allowed the hitter to make base.
   Howell followed it up with a hard shot to deep left-center field to tie the contest with Rollins coming home.
   "The coach has been really working with me staying in, and I've been pulling my shoulder, so it's helped a lot," said Howell.
   Happy Valley had limited success at the plate, but the shot from Howell was much-needed and gave them the boost to pull ahead.
   "We were killing the ball starting out the season, but now we're not hitting the ball to our capability, but hopefully, when the districts come around, we'll step it up another notch," said Howell.
   There wasn't much effort on Happy Valley's part for the next three runs, as four out of five of the next hitters walked.
   Todd Caldwell, Cody Collins and Ryan Toney all benefited from the lack of execution from the mound, which gave the Warriors a 5-2 lead to brought forth a pitching change for the Bucs.
   Josh Fields came in from right field to give Sams a relief, and gave a respectable performance for the remainder of the game.
   "Josh Fields came in and did an excellent job in relief, and shut them down essentially, and that's what you need for he put out their fire, but unfortunately we didn't have enough fire to win," said Borden.
   University High made a run in the fifth frame, after a hit to right-center field from Fields drove in Harrell.
   The Warriors decided to bring in a new pitcher when two straight walks from Shannon Buchannan loaded the bases.
   "About three or four innings I was pretty strong, and then I started getting a little weak and my curve ball wasn't finishing," said Buchannan.
   Buchannan had pitched earlier in the day in the Warriors' JV game against Unicoi County, so the number of pitches had begun to take their toll.
   "It was just so hot and I knew he would get tired. He played a little in the other game earlier, so I was just trying to get five innings out of him, and he pretty much gave me what I wanted," said Happy Valley coach Greg Hyder.
   Senior Britton Brummitt was chosen as the reliever, and did a good job of helping the Warriors escape the inning with not relinquishing anymore runs.
   "We brought in Britton late and he shut the door on them, but they still got some hits off of him, and I don't know if he had his good stuff, but it was good enough," said Hyder.
   The Bucs blew a chance to get themselves back into the contest in the sixth frame, after the two lead-off hitters made it to base, and then were thrown out due to base-running mistakes.
   University High shot itself in the foot during that frame, and had one last shot entering the seventh and final inning.
   A lead-off double to center-field from Smith gave hope to the Bucs, as their rally attempt was drawing near.
   The Warriors kept their composure by making the needed defensive plays and capturing three consecutive outs to end the contest.
   "I thought we played solid defense, and I don't know about our hitting, but we hit the ball hard and it went right to them, so they made the plays and it was an all out good ball game," said Hyder.