Raiders subdue feisty Warriors

By Ivan Sanders

   It was a game where the winner survived to play another day and the loser was destined to pack away the metal and leather until another baseball season rolled around.
   In the losers bracket of the District 1-AA baseball tournament at Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, Happy Valley was looking to keep their post season aspirations alive, but it was the strong pitching of Brandon Summey and the power-hitting of Todd Yarbrough that carried Sullivan North to a 5-1 decision over Greg Hyder's Warriors.
   "We could get the lead off singles, but never could finish the job," said Hyder. "This team is a young team and Ryan Toney just pitched a dandy of a game, good enough actually to win. We just didn't get the job done behind him."
   Happy Valley dented the scoreboard first in the second inning as first baseman Dan Back smacked a double to get the Warriors going. Joe Howell followed Back's double with a single to advance Back to third base.
   Shannon Buchannon put the Warriors on the board with a solid single after working Summey to a tough full count. Howell was gunned at the plate in a nice throw from the right fielder to end the frame.
   Summey then settled in over the next three innings as he allowed the Warriors only one base runner over the span. Back's second hit, a single, was the only damage done.
   Meanwhile, the Raiders finally broke the ice with a big bottom of the third inning. Matt Ball reached on an infield single and Alex Bolling advanced Ball to third with a single. Power-hitting Josh Jenkins loaded the bases with a walk.
   Toney threw one to the backstop allowing Ball to score on the wild pitch with the other runners moving up 90 feet. Raiders first baseman, Todd Yarbrough, stepped to the dish and planted a Toney offering some 350 feet outside Hunter Wright Stadium for a mammoth homer and a 4-1 Raider advantage after three complete.
   "Our power hitter, Chuck Odom, wasn't getting the job done for us tonight," stated North head coach J.D. Colquitt. "The homer by Yarbrough was definitely, definitely huge for us and then he ripped another single so I'd have to say Todd carried us through this one."
   With good defense playing behind him, Summey appeared on cruise control going into the top of the sixth. The Raiders gave Summey a little more room to work in the bottom of the fifth as they added another score to their column.
   Chuck Odom reached on an error and crossed the plate on an RBI single by catcher Eric Estepp with Yarbrough adding another single in the frame.
   Happy Valley threatened again in the top of the sixth as Tim Whaley reached on a two-base throwing error by Odom. Cody Cannon took one on the shin to place runners at first and second with two outs.
   Back came to the plate hoping to tear into a Summey offering, but the Raider right-hander won the battle over the Warrior first baseman to get out of the inning unscathed.
   Toney held strong in the bottom of the sixth to give his team one last shot at extending their season.
   Happy Valley managed to get Howell on with another single, but Summey was just too strong as he closed out the Happy Valley season by sitting down the next three batters he faced to advance North to the championship game of the loser's bracket to face Unicoi County tonight at 5 p.m.
   "We had a good season by winning 18 games," stated Hyder. "It just so happened that we had to walk off the field the losing team tonight, but that's life and we'll be back ready again next year."