CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Walker Valley's Michael Pledge picked up three hits for the Mustangs against Lincoln County Thursday, but none bigger than his two RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning that helped propel Walker Valley to a 7-6 walk-off win over the Falcons.
Pledge was also the starting pitcher for Walker Valley (5-4) and worked 3 1/3 innings. The big righty gave up three hits and three runs struck out five and walked five before handing the ball over to eventual winning pitcher Conner Phillips with one out in the top of the fourth. Conner gave up five hits and fanned six.
“It seems like in the past couple of years if somebody jumped on us like that at the end we would kind of like say we gave it our best and tuck tail and go. Not this group. They answered the bell again,” said a pleased Mustangs head coach Wes Anderson. “We challenged them a little bit on Tuesday, they answered the bell and they answered the bell again today. We're not going to be punked by anybody. I'm really proud of these guys.”
The Mustangs struck first in the bottom of the first taking a 1-0 lead on a Braxton Smith RBI single.
The Falcons fired back in the top half of the second with a pair of runs to go up 2-1.
Felipe Castellanos led off the Mustangs' third with a single to left and move up on a Jordan Smith sacrifice bunt. Landon Franklin reached first on an error. Both runners moved up a base on a Lincoln error and scored when Parker Minnix sent a two RBI single to right field.
The 3-3 tie stood firm until the top of the eighth when the Falcons broke the stalemate with three runs off a double and three singles to make it a 6-3 game.
But, the Mustangs were not done.
Franklin trotted to first after being hit by a pitch and stood on second on a innix single. Franklin made it 6-4 when Smith singled to left. Tucker Ownby loaded the bases with a bunt single. With no outs and the pads loaded, Pledge came through in a big way for the Mustangs with a two RBI single — the fourth consecutive hit of the inning — to right field to knot the score at 6-6 and sent Ownby to third. Logan Wallace put the cap on the victory with a perfectly placed bunt down the third-base line that sent Ownby racing home with the winning run.
“We got ourselves in a bad position and they capitalized on it and we came right back,” said a happy Anderson.
The Mustangs are off Friday and will return to play Saturday at 11:45 a.m., and 2:30 p.m.
“We've got one more tonight with McCallie.I think these guys are ready to go for it. They are excited,” Anderson said. “The thing about baseball is, you can't play it on emotional highs and let failures take you to a low. You've got to find an even keel spot. I've been proud of these guys this year. This will be a new challenge because we've not experienced a high like that and turned right back around and played.”
LINCOLN CO. 020 100 03 — 6 8 3
WALKER VALLEY 102 000 04 — 7 11 1
WP: Conner Phillips LP: Sam Smith 2B: Carter Bankston (LC).
HIGHLIGHTS: Charlie Stubblefield 2-4, Brett Dobbs 3-4 (LC); Parker Minnix 3-4, Braxton Smith 2-4, Tucker Ownby 2-4, Michael Pledge 3-4, Felipe Castellanos 2-4. RECORDS: Walker Valley 5-4.