By Tim Chambers
The young guns of Happy Valley played with the heart of a lion, fighting to the bitter end. Unfortunately, Elizabethton still proved to be king of the jungle.
Photo by Danny Davis - Elizabethton’s Wes Montgomery slides into second base with a first-inning double, beating the tag of HV shortstop Justin Maupin.
The Cyclones rode an outstanding pitching performance by Wes Montgomery to their 6-1 victory over the Warriors on Tuesday at Joe O’Brien Field.
The senior right-hander dominated the game on the hill. He allowed only three hits, stuck out 13 and never walked a batter while going the distance.
“I’ve been a little under the weather for the past two days, but luckily I was able to get it done,” said Montgomery. “I got tired toward the end, so I tried to reach back and give it all I had. We lost a heartbreaker to East that I thought we should have won. I’ve got a good feeling about this baseball team.”
Ironically, it was Montgomery who helped account for ’Betsy’s first run. He hustled his way to a one-out double, then scored on a base hit by Conner Campbell.
The Cyclones added another run in the second on a RBI double off the bat of Quincy Jackson, scoring Chad Pritchard, who had singled.
Happy Valley had trouble solving Montgomery at the plate. He struck out five of the first six batters he faced and retired 11 consecutive batters before giving up a two-out
single to Zack Miller in the fourth.
Freshman Corey Garland was bulldog on the mound for Happy Valley, using his off-speed curve ball to get out of a few jams.
It was a three-run third inning that proved to be the difference in the game.
Anthony Ward got things started with a double. Jordan Henshaw would deliver a clutch two-run single, scoring Ward plus Campbell, who had walked. The lead was 5-0 after Thomas Miller drove home Henshaw with a sacrifice fly.
“We stress hitting, defense and pitching — and when you get all of those you’re going to win games,” said Cyclone skipper Joe Nix. “We’re not out here to bang the fences down or play long ball by any means — defense, making the routine plays, timely hitting and pitchers doing their jobs is what we’re looking for. The first game we had the first two parts, but tonight we added some clutch hitting. I think we were a little bit more relaxed. I feel comfortable playing anyone we have. It’s not how much they play, but maybe that one moment in the game that might be the difference.
Happy Valley would avoid the shutout by picking up a solo run n the fifth. Phillip Garland was able to reach on a wild pitch, then scored two batters later on a single by Aaron Renfro.
Elizabethton’s final run came in the sixth after Thomas Miller delivered a two-bagger and Pritchard brought him home with a groundout.
Montgomery breezed through the seventh added two Ks to his total.
Ward led the Cyclones at the plate with a 2-for-3 effort. Montgomery, Campbell, Henshaw, Miller, Pritchard and Jackson provided one apiece.
Miller had two of Happy Valley’s three hits.
Garland gave up eight hits, struck out seven and walked one — pitching a complete game in his first varsity action.
Happy Valley head coach Caleb Moore complimented his young pitcher and team.
“If we can keep that type of energy all season long, then we’re going to be all right,” said Moore. “Baseball is a weird game — you can’t get high and you can’t get too low. You’ve got to play at an even keel because it’s a long season. They showed me a lot tonight. We’ve just got to make some adjustments at the plate and be a little more aggressive. I thought Corey pitched great and our defense was pretty solid. I’m proud of the way they battled till the end. I think we’re going to be okay.”
Both teams return to action on Thursday. Happy Valley (1-1, 1-1) will be at home against University High at 3 p.m., with Elizabethton (1-1, 1-1) hosting Chuckey-Doak at 5.
Elizabethton 6, Happy Valley 1
Happy Valley 000 000 0 — 1 2 1
Elizabethton 113 001 x — 6 8 0
C.Garland and Miller. Montgomery and Miller. W—Montgomery. L—C. Garland.