Warriors spill Cougars

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   When faced with having your number one pitcher go out with an injury, then simply throw the young freshman at them and it will all take care of itself, according to Happy Valley in its 2-0 District 1-AA tournament win over Sullivan Central at Joe O'Brien Field on Monday.
   "I thought we battled and we knew Central had a good team, said Happy Valley coach Greg Hyder. "We've played them tough and felt like we should have won the last game against them."
   The Warriors were able to overcome their star pitcher, Britton Brummitt, leaving the mound, as Todd Caldwell stepped in to turn back the Cougars.
   "A lot of things changed around for us with Britton going out and us having to come with another pitcher," Hyder said. "We hung in and battled, so I'm really proud of them."
   Happy Valley was up 2-0 before Brummitt received an injury to his throwing arm, but the Warrior defense was not about to fold in keeping the Cougars scoreless.
   "This one was truly for Britton, because he has carried us all year long and has been a great pitcher for all four years, so tonight we just wanted to get this one for him," said Caldwell.
   The Warriors jumped on top from the start as leadoff hitter Lamar Rollins smacked a single to shallow center field.
   Rollins was able to make advancement to second base after a bunt coming from Cody Whitlock.
   Happy Valley grabbed its first score when Cody Cannon smacked a hit down the left-field line to drive home Rollins.
   "That's what these guys expect in having a senior to step up and get a big hit, but it's not just me or one person," Cannon said. "It's the team and we've really learned that this season."
   The Warriors struck again in the top of the second inning, when Rollins hit a double to left field to score Jordy Harrison.
   "This gives us a really big boost, but then again we can't lay down just because we're in the winners-bracket, so we have to step it up and take it to everybody we play," said Cannon.
   Everything was going the Warriors way in the second frame, until their pitcher Brummitt injured his arm on a throw to the third batter he was facing during the inning.
   "I started out and threw a curve ball, and I don't know whether I pulled a ligament or chipped a bone in my elbow, and I couldn't throw anymore," said Brummitt.
   Coach Hyder elected to bring Caldwell from first base to relieve Brummitt, and this proved to be the most important decision of the contest.
   Caldwell was phenomenal throughout the game, as he struck out the first two hitters to close out the second frame.
   "He's a freshman, but I don't know what to tell you for he battles, and Britton leads them and gives them the confidence," Hyder said. "They all look up to him."
   A shot from Ryan Davenport in the bottom of the third was the only hit of the night the Cougars could manage against Caldwell.
   Bases became loaded for the Cougars in the third frame, when Caldwell committed a couple of walks, but he kept his composure by striking out Shane Jobe for the final out.
   "We just left too many runners on, and there were probably 10 or 11 in scoring position, but you can't win ball games when you get down to the best of the best," said Sullivan Central coach Brandon Krantz.
   Happy Valley threatened to add to its score in the top of the sixth, after a double to the left-center field fence that almost drove home Ryan Toney.
   Toney elected to hold at third base, and a groundout by Ricky Morgan save Sullivan Central from giving up another run.
   Caldwell found himself in trouble in the bottom of the sixth, after walking three batters to load the bases.
   "We didn't come through, but we've battled all year, and the next time we get an opportunity we will come through and fight till the end," said Krantz.
   As previously, Caldwell was able to elude any damage by striking out Davenport for the third out.
   It was getting more difficult for Caldwell to keep his focus with the rain pouring down and the end drawing near.
   "He's a freshman and has worked all year long, and he defeated Unicoi County and Johnson County earlier in the year, and this is the first time we have beat Central, so I'm really proud of him," said Brummitt.
   A walk to the leadoff hitter Seth Hyder in the final frame appeared that Caldwell might be starting to slip a little.
   An amazing three straight strikeouts to the next three batters proved that Caldwell was not slipping, but just starting to catch fire.
   "My coach told me work ahead, and I fell behind a couple of times in the count, but when that happened I just had to battle my way back," said Caldwell.