Warriors lose  tough battle with Raiders

By Marvin Birchfield

   In a game that fiercely played, Sullivan North was able to capitalize off a couple of Happy Valley mistakes to post a 2-0 victory in the winners bracket final of the District 1-AA baseball tournament at O'Brien Field on Thursday night.
   The Golden Raiders converted on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Arnold in the bottom of the sixth, with mishaps from the mound and field leading to Happy Valley's downfall.
   "We had senior coming up to bat in the sixth inning and had Matt Ball get on with a hit, then Lance Carter finds a way to get on, and Kevin Arnold has a great at bat," said North head coach Steve Dixon.
   Sullivan North pitcher Brandon Summey gave the Warriors little opportunity of earning a run, as he threw 11 strikeouts and allowed just two hits.
   "He's a big-time pitcher in a big time game, but give them credit," Dixon said. "I think their pitcher did a good job, too."
   Alex Bowling had a bunt to lead off in the bottom of the first for North, but was soon picked off after trying to steal second base.
   Summey made a quick exit of the Warriors hitters in the top of the second by striking out three consecutive batters.
   Ryan Toney was strong for Happy Valley, as he allowed just four hits on the evening, and one of the two runs that scored was unearned.
   The Warriors' Jordy Harrison made an excellent over-the-shoulder diving catch in the third frame, when Jimmy Arnold a hit the ball that appeared to be going fouled.
   "I kept my head down and had to get behind the ball, and I didn't get behind it, but I kept my eye on it to make the catch," said Harrison.
   The Warriors avoided any damage in both the fourth and fifth frames, after Sullivan North had two runners left on base in each of the innings.
   It wasn't until the sixth frame that Happy Valley acquired its first hit on the night, when Joe Howell smacked a single to left field.
   "It's a hard one to lose, but we'll just have to come out and hit the ball better tomorrow, so hopefully we can come back strong," Harrison said. "I believe in these guys."
   The Warriors were unable to advance Howell as Summey stepped up his game to notch three straight strikeouts.
   "I knew I had a no-hitter going, but I didn't want to think about it, because usually when you do you'll end up screwing it up, and I just wanted to get the win for my team," said Summery.
   The bottom of the sixth became the tale of the game, when the Warrior defense started to fold.
   A leadoff single from Matt Ball set the tone, and a bad throw from shortstop enabled him to advance to second base.
   "The kid gets a hit off the ground ball, but we throw it away and that's critical," said Happy Valley head coach Greg Hyder. "You're looking at somebody on second with nobody out."
   A wild pitch brought Ball around to third, then a walk and steal from courtesy runner C.J. Hackler set up the go-ahead score.
   Kevin Arnold smacked a sacrifice fly to deep left field, but a hard throw from Cody Whitlock gave the Warriors a chance of bailing themselves out of the inning.
   Some confusion on the throw from Whitlock to catcher Cody Cannon resulted in ball crossing the plate, as there was no attempt on trying to cut off the ball, which sailed left.
   "We battled and got the fly ball, then we had a chance at the double-play, but I don't know whether the throw was off, or we should have made the cut," said Hyder.
   Another run came in after a wild pitch from Toney allowed Hackler to score.
   The Warriors had their second hit of the night in the final frame, when freshman Todd Caldwell smacked a single down the left-field line.
   Two more strikeouts from Summey put Tim Whaley at the plate, but he flew out after hitting a hard shot to the center fielder Bowling.
   "You have to battle, and luckily Kevin had a great at bat," Summey said. "They got me two runs and I knew we only needed one, so I shut it down."