Warriors attack, befuddle 'Dogs

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Happy Valley Warriors have their sights set on a conference title. That was evident Tuesday afternoon.
   In a must-win Watauga Conference outing, the Warriors got strong pitching from senior Tim Whaley and racked up 11 hits to oust county rival Hampton 14-1 in baseball action at Bulldog Field.
   "We wanted to come up here and play well," said Happy Valley coach Greg Hyder. "We don't play very well up here and we haven't since I've been here. I thought we came out and jumped on them. We hit the ball hard today. This was a tough task for us."
   Happy Valley (21-7, 9-3) moves to a big doubleheader against Volunteer beginning at 4:15 this afternoon at Joe O'Brien Field.
   The Warriors need to sweep the two-game series to clinch the conference crown.
   "If we win out tomorrow, we'll win it," said Hyder. "If we split, we'll probably come in second. If Volunteer beats North tonight and we split, we're still the champs. We need to take care of business."
   For the Hampton game, Whaley tossed five strikeouts and only allowed two hits in the five inning affair with defensive help from his teammates.
   "This will probably be the last time I play at Hampton period in anything to tell you the truth," said the senior leader, who also had two hits and walked twice. "I wanted to come out try to hit my spots. I hit my spots and made plays, there's not much else you can do. They backed me up and it was an all-around good day."
   Hyder was pleased with Tim's all-around good effort.
   "Whaley was great. He threw all of his pitches for strikes and was in control of the whole game," the coach said. "He walked one there at the end and they got a hit, but other than that I thought he was great. He's a great leader for us."
   Sophomores Ricky Morgan and Todd Caldwell each added multi-hit games for the squad, which put up a good streak of hits in the third and fourth innings.
   "We stretched together a bunch of hits in a row. It's not happened a lot for us," Hyder added. "Today, we're getting one hit after another and putting a lot of pressure on the pitcher. When you do that, you score a bunch of runs."
   It didn't start out smoothly for the Warriors, as Hampton had solid defense and good pitching from Josh Cole.
   "In the first, second and maybe third innings, our bats were down a little bit," said Whaley. "We were hitting bloopers and getting jammed. We battled a little bit and started driving the ball in gaps like we should do every game."
   However, Hampton fell apart with three errors in the third inning and Happy Valley never looked back.
   "We disintegrated," said Hampton coach Scotty Bunton. "(Whaley) pitched a good game against us and they hit the ball well."
   "Our pitcher couldn't throw a breaking pitch today to save his life. It was his worst outing of the year," he said. "He's been playing pretty good ball for us. But they played well and beat us to death."
   An error and fielder's choice to Will Lowe and Shannon Buchanan, respectively, put the Warriors in scoring position. Ryan Garland singled to move Buchanan for Morgan, who delivered an RBI single.
   Caldwell then stepped up with a big two-run double in the left-center gap.
   After some outs, Tim Whaley (walked) and Ryan Toney (fielder's choice) scored on an errored shot from Allen Dykes.
   The Warriors continued things in the fourth with RBI hits from Lowe, Dykes Whaley and Caldwell, while Buchanan, Davis and Morgan scored after hits.
   Whaley added an RBI double for Morgan in the fifth inning before Caldwell and courtesy runner Daniel Shankle came across the plate for the team's final two runs of the game.
   Hampton finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Zack Trivette drove in Zack Crabtree, who led the stanza off with a walk.
   The Bulldogs continue play at home on Thursday with a double-header against rival Johnson County. Bunton hopes the team plays better.
   "I hope so," he said. "We thought we were going to do a better job today. We have been hitting it pretty well. You never know. You have to give them the credit -- they did a lot and made us look bad."