Warriors win tough game with Cyclones

By Tim Chambers

   Baseball fans who liked the movie "Gunfight at the OK Corral," would have loved last night's version of the Blackbottom shootout at Joe O'Brien Field.
   Playing before a large crowd, the Happy Valley Warriors and Elizabethton Cyclones gave baseball fans more than their money's worth. The Warriors used a four-run sixth inning to down the Cyclones 7-6 in a Watauga Conference showdown.
   Happy Valley jumped on top 1-0 in the second when Ryan Toney sent a fastball over the left-field wall for a home run.
   "I was just trying to hit the ball solid," said Toney. "I had been in a bit of a slump lately."
   The Warriors added a single run in the third as Ryan Garland walked and advanced to second on a single by Ricky Morgan. A long fly ball from Todd Caldwell allowed both runners to move up for Tim Whaley, whose groundout scored Garland for a 2-0 lead.
   The Cyclones rallied in the bottom of the third when Kelly Adkins and Alex Graves drew walks to start the inning. J.C. Atkinson reached on a fielder's choice, then Nathan Bishop laced a double down the left-field line scoring Adkins and Atkinson.
   Travis Bowers gave Betsy a 3-2 lead with a single to left scoring Bishop. Toney was able to get a flyout to end the inning.
   The Warriors tied the score in the fifth as Shannon Buchanan worked his way for a free pass and advanced to second on a groundout. Caldwell delivered a solid single to right for an RBI, tying the score at 4.
   The Valley got happy in the sixth and was able to touch Bowers for four runs on hits, with all runs coming after two outs. Allen Dykes led off with a single as the next two batters were erased by outs.
   From there Ryan Garland stroked a two-out single, placing runners on the corners. Morgan continued his torrid hitting by slapping a double to left, scoring Drew Davis and Garland.
   "My dad and I work on hitting every chance we get, and it has paid off for me," said Morgan. "I am seeing the ball very well."
   Consecutive walks to Caldwell and Whaley loaded the bases for Toney, who delivered a hard single to left for two RBIs and a 7-4 lead.
   Cody Eggers relieved Bowers and got Jordy Harrrison to flyout in deep center for third out.
   'Betsy refused to fold in the sixth, scoring two runs and missing out on a third. Adkins and Graves opened the inning with walks, followed by a Adkinson single to load the bases.
   Caldwell was brought on in relief of Toney to try and slow down the Cyclone express. A wild pitch sent pinch-runner Gavin Dugger racing home, only to be called out on a bang-bang play by the home-plate umpire.
   Coach Steve McKinney was very upset with the call and voiced his displeasure, which resulted in him being ejected from the game. This seemed to fire up the orange and black as on the next play a wild pitch allowed Graves and Atkinson to score that closed the gap at 7-6.
   Caldwell would give up an infield single to Nat Treadway, but was able to get out of the inning with a one-run lead.
   Eggers pitched brilliantly in relief, retiring the Warriors in order in the seventh. The Cyclones threatened in the seventh when Bowers led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second on a good bunt from Ricky Garrison.
   Caldwell was able to strikeout the next two hitters, giving the Warriors a hard-fought win.
   "When I came on in relief Ryan looked at me and said, 'Pick me up Todd,'" said Caldwell. "We all believe in one another. Elizabethton played very good tonight."
   Morgan and Toney led the Warrior offense with three hits each. Dykes chipped in with two while Garland and Caldwell added one each.
   Bishop, Treadway, Bowers and Atkinson had the only hits for the Cyclones. Bishop added two RBIs while Bowers and Treadway had one each.
   "This is the hardest game for me as a coach to be in," said Happy Valley head coach Greg Hyder. "I love those kids (Cyclones) over in that dugout. I got so much respect for that coaching staff and the good job they do, and my nephew (Trevor Hyder) is on that team
   "Give Elizabethton credit -- they played our tails off tonight."
   "I am very proud of our team tonight," said Cyclone skipper Steve McKinney. "Both teams played hard and it was a great game for the fans to see."
   "I loved the effort our kids game tonight," added McKinney. "They played their hearts out."