District 1-AA Baseball Tournament: Happy Valley eliminates Cyclones

Published 7:34 pm Sunday, May 8, 2016

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KINGSPORT—A big sixth inning put the icing on the cake for the Warriors as they topped cross town rivals, the Elizabethton Cyclones, 13-2 during an elimination game at Dobyns-Bennett High School on day three of the District 1-AA Baseball Tournament.

“Any time you get to come out on top during an elimination game makes for an emotional night,” Happy Valley head coach Brad Hill said. “It just so happens that tonight was against Elizabethton, and it made our kids a little more pumped about it.”

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With the win, Happy Valley advances to take on Unicoi, who dropped their contest with Sullivan East on Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

“In my opinion, they have the most potent line up in the league,” Hill said about the Blue Devils. “When they are swinging the bats well they can score runs in bunches. So we are going to have to out and pitch and play solid defense like we have the last three games.

“I feel like our pitchers have done a great job of keeping us in the ball game,” Hill added. “Our defense has been able to do well at Dobyns-Bennett, and I think if we can do those two things, pitching and defense, then it should be an exciting game tomorrow night.”

The Warriors, who led 7-2 coming into the sixth, brought out the heavy bats to widen the gap between them and the Cyclones. With the bases loaded, catcher Bailey Conley smashed a 3-RBI double. Conley wouldn’t be left on base long as Happy Valley’s Ryne Baines popped an RBI double to net Conley. Completing the scoring onslaught was Warriors senior Ian Scruggs, who blasted a 2-run homer to give Happy Valley its 13-2 edge.

The Warriors finished the game with nine hits to the Cyclones one. Both Taylor Hurley and Conley had two hits and three RBIs a piece, while Scruggs finished with one huge hit and two RBIs. Dustun Sams recored two hits and an RBI as Baines closed things out with a hit and an RBI. According the Coach Hill, the Warriors’ hitting has picked up in a big way during the postseason.

“The past three games, when we started the conference tournament, we have swung the bats better than we have all year,” Hill said. “This is a great time to get healthy. Tonight, I thought our approach at the plate was really good. We squared the ball up really well.

“Tonight, our outs were productive outs, sacrifice flies, sacrifice bunts,” added Hill. “We really executed well at the plate tonight.”

Happy Valley’s Tyler Stansberry picked up the win as he opened the game for the Warriors and pitched for four innings, during which he only gave up one hit, while striking out two batters. Hunter Jones came in to relieve Stansberry, before Scruggs came in to finish out the game.