Baseball 2019

Learning already: Valiants' big 6th inning keys win against Trojans

Valiants' big 6th inning keys win against Trojans

February 26, 2019

HAHIRA –– The Valwood Valiants (2-0) got on the board early, then poured it on late to come away with a 5-2 win against Hamilton County (1-3) on Tuesday.

Valwood led 2-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. Hamilton County went to reliever Nadre Johnson, who lasted just eight pitches in his stint. Johnson walked Dan Kerrigan Jr. then allowed consecutive bunt singles by Wade Holton and Treb Wetherington to load the bases. To make matters worse, Johnson face-planted into the dirt as he tried to recover the bunt near home plate.

Hamilton County coach Chris Howard pulled Johnson in favor of Kaleb Deas. Deas promptly walked Luke Eager to bring in Kerrigan to make it 3-0 in favor of the Valiants. Facing the Valiants' Colby McGee, Deas threw a wild pitch that scored Holton to put the Trojans behind 4-0. Deas struck out McGee, but with two men on and one out, gave up an RBI to first baseman Mason Williams that brought Wetherington across to push the Valwood lead to 5-0. Between the fifth and sixth innings, the Valiants tacked on four runs to earn the victory.

"(The sixth inning) was big because we ended up throwing the ball around (for errors) a little bit in the last inning," Valwood coach Robert Shipman said. "(Hamilton County) scored two runs off of it. Those runs allowed us to settled down and the pressure that it normally would've put on if the score was 2-1 and all that stuff was going on, it may have been insurmountable for this early in the season. 

"That sixth inning allowed us to relax and keep on playing. I'm really proud of them that they didn't freak out in that situation for the most part. That was a big inning for us."

Harrison Hamsley picked up the win for the Valiants, pitching four innings with two strikeouts and one walk. Hamsley also showed skills at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Brad Peacock earned the loss for the Trojans after an uneven four innings of work. Peacock struck out nine Valiants but walked five with one earned run.

The Valiants were able to keep Hamsley fresh as they went to McGee in relief. McGee responded with two strikeouts while giving up one hit and walking one batter in two innings of action. The top of the seventh got a little ragged when Tommy Davis came on to close the game, as Davis committed two of the Valiants' three errors in the inning that allowed the Trojans to score a pair of runs late.

"I tell you, it started off with Hamsley," Shipman said. "We initially had him on a 40-pitch limit, but by the time he got to the third inning, he only had like 29 pitches. He was locating, he was dealing and he was unpredictable. He was mixing up all his pitches, he did a good job of keeping them off balance. He carried us to the fifth and then we brought in Colby. He ran into a little bit of trouble, nothing serious, but he did a good job of scrapping back and making some pitches. ... For the most part, our pitching just kept them at bay."

The Valiants finished with five runs on five hits while drawing seven walks and striking out 12 times on the day. Eager and McGee each drew two walks in the game while Matt Hardy scored a run in his three plate appearances.

Hamilton County finished with four hits, two of which coming from Jerel Tolle. Tolle also scored one of the Trojans' two runs in the game.

Though they didn't prove to be fatal, five errors in the second game of the season is something Shipman will chalk up to early-season jitters.

"That's all the chalk in the world [laughs]," Shipman said. "We have three seniors, one's not here with the team. These guys are young, but they're talented. This is valuable experience –– these situations that we can get into and get out of are going to help us in the long run. I chalk it up to early-season jitters but much-needed situational play."

UP NEXT

Valwood travels to Jacksonville, Fla. to face the Bolles Bulldogs at Englewood High School on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.