Cougars deny Warriors

By Marvin Birchfield

   Happy Valley's season ended in 3-1 loss to Sullivan Central on Friday night, as the Warriors were denied the opportunity of competing for the regional round.
   The Warriors defeated the Cougars earlier in the week, but a 2-0 loss to Sullivan North on Thursday dropped them back to face Central once again.
   It was the same scenario with Shane Jobe facing Todd Caldwell on the mound, but the final result was different.
   "I mixed in a few pitches and my defense worked real well for me, but this feels great for we have never been here before," said Cougar pitcher Shane Jobe.
   Happy Valley was entering this contest without the injured senior leader Britton Brummitt, who had made an impact for the Warriors in his four years played.
   "I had never beat Central and we finally beat them the other day, and that was my game and I wanted them bad," said Brummitt. "All these senior guys I have played with since I was nine years old -- it's killing me because I know I won't be playing with them again."
   Momentum was on the side of the Cougars from the start, after Adam Hardin smacked a home-run over the left-field wall in the top of the first.
   "I had a good feeling that the fast ball was coming there, and I just set back and waited on it, then it went right over the wall," said Hardin.
   Happy Valley had a runner in position to score in the top of the first when Caldwell hit a single and then stole second base, but catcher Cody Cannon wasn't able to bring him in after Jobe made the strikeout.
   "Coach Greg Hyder has been like a father to me, along with Coach Hurley and Coach Etter, who have been so inspirational," said Cannon. "This has been a great group of seniors. We've been there for each other, and I'm glad to say I'm a Happy Valley Warrior.
   The Cougars had two more hits in the inning coming from Daniel Skelton and Josh O'Dell, but the Warriors defense manage to hold-off the potential scoring.
   Senior Lamar Rollins led off with a double down the right-field line to start the third frame, but the Warriors were unsuccessful in producing another hit to drive him in.
   "We battled all year and hung with some good teams that we played, but sometimes we not able to capitalize on the things we need to do," said Rollins.
   The Warriors were plagued all game long with not being able to connect on back to back hits, even though they had some nice hard shots throughout.
   "We've battled all season, for we started out 1-6, and then we won 18 out of our last 23, so what more can you do for we played as hard as we could," said senior left fielder Cody Whitlock.
   The Cougars struck again in the bottom of the third, after Central connected on a couple of singles, along with Caldwell having trouble in controlling his throws.
   Two wild pitches coming from Caldwell place Skelton in scoring position on third base, and a hit from O'Dell drove the run home making it 2-0 in favor of the Cougars.
   "Seems like we could never get a break in our last two games, and we had one go our way in the first part of the tournament," said Happy Valley coach Greg Hyder.
   Tim Whaley crushed a double out to the left-field wall to start the fourth frame, but a base-running mistake by leaving too early on a pop fly resulted into a double play for the Cougars.
   The Warriors threaten to tie the contest in the top of the fifth, after a run scored by Joe Howell came across the plate, when Rollins smacked a hit to left field.
   Another hit by Todd Caldwell brought Rollins around to third base and on his way home, but Seth Hyder was able to make the throw to Ryan Davenport at home to deny the score.
   "Seemed like every hard ball we hit was right at them, or every play we tried to make hustling like the one we tried to score on, they would make the perfect throw," said Hyder.
   Sullivan Central added the last run of the game in the bottom of the sixth, when a dropped ball at second base, which would have been the third out, allowed O'Dell to come home.
   Jobe was credited with the win on the mound, while freshman Todd Caldwell received his third loss in his eight games pitched.
   "Adam Hardin came to play this tournament, and Shane Jobe threw an excellent game along with all of our pitchers throughout this tournament, and now we are in the regionals and that was our goal," said Sullivan Central head coach Brandon Krantz.
   Sullivan Central 4
   Sullivan North 5
   The last time was 1985 that Sullivan North won a district championship, but on Friday it was the Golden Raiders' night as they defeated Sullivan Central 5-4 to lay claim to the crown.
   "This is a great group of kids, and I have been with them forever, so that makes it a little different, but we did what we set out to do, and they went out and got it done," said Sullivan North coach Steve Dixon.
   The Cougars took the early advantage, when they connected on four consecutive hits to drive in two runs.
   Sullivan North came back in the bottom of the second, when they ripped four straight hits to produce three scores, with the go-ahead run coming from Kevin Arnold off a hit from Jimmy Arnold.
   Central tied the contest in the first half of the third on a single by Joey Watson to drive home Seth Hyder, but the Golden Raiders came back with a sacrifice fly from Brandon Summey to score Lance Carter.
   Sullivan North added another run in the fifth frame to push the lead to 5-3, but the Cougars made a strong rally in the final frame to bring the contest down to the wire.
   After loading the bases on three straight hits from Central, pitcher Jimmy Arnold walked in Hyder cutting the lead to one with one out.
   Sullivan North brought Trey Mosley to the mound for the save, as the last two hitters for Central were fielded out to give North the claim to the title.
   "Kevin has done a good job all year for he goes out and battles, and he'll keep you in the game for he's that competitive," said Dixon.
   Players that were named to the all tournament team from Happy Valley was Todd Caldwell and Ryan Toney, from Sullivan Central was Josh O'Dell, Shane Jobe Adam Hardin, and Eric Allen.
   Sullivan North had Lance Carter, Matt Baugh and Kevin Arnold to make the all-tournament team, while Brandon Summey was awarded the tournament's MVP.