Boyd Buchanan Win Runs Streak To Eight

Hot Bucs Hand Walker Valley Another Close Loss

  • Friday, March 29, 2024
  • James Beach

A year ago, with a senior dominated team in tow, Walker Valley was a master at all the small details it took to collect wins in close games. Of the Mustangs' 22-win journey which ended in the Class 4A state tournament in Murfreesboro, nine of them were grind-them-out victories decided by two runs or less.

Baseball by its very nature though is a game of giveth and taketh away. A hard hit out is rewarded by a bloop single.  A string of close wins is offset by heartbreaking losses. It's an axiom of baseball which has stood the test of time.

Thursday night, the Mustangs felt the sting of yet another close loss, dropping a 6-3 loss to a Boyd Buchanan team that might be the area's next great title contender. The loss was Walker Valley's seventh this young season by three runs or less, a fact both promising and troubling for head coach Wes Anderson.

"It's a process and I just have to keep reminding the guys of that. We lost a lot off varsity from a year ago, but we are getting there and there is a lot of baseball left in front of us. I hate to lose as much as anybody, but things will start falling our way if we just keep battling like we have. That's a really, really good team in that dugout over there, but eventually those hard hit balls will stop being right at people," Anderson said afterwards.

In contrast, the baseball Bucs have strung together just the sort of start head coach Stephen Pryor knew his talented roster was capable of as hopes are high in Buc land thanks to a combination of defense, hitting and pitching. All three phases were hallmarks of last night's home win.

"The defense was solid and we put some barrels on the ball today. I thought all our pitchers pounded the strike zone. We hadn't played in a week, but we came out with some good intensity and that's a good sign to follow a layoff like that," said Pryor, his team now 10-1 on the young season as it makes its way into the meat of the region schedule.

The Bucs set the tone for the game immediately as a nifty double play from Vandy signee Brodie Johnston to Haden Griffith wiped out a first inning Walker Valley runner, before Boyd Buchanan pushed across a three spot in the bottom of the inning.

Johnston got things going with a one-out laser double and Cooper Jones singled to center to put runners on the corners. Jones stole second on a close play and Johnston scurried home on the delayed double steal to make it 1-0. Eli Gardenhire then doubled in the gap to plate another run before Jonathon Tinker delivered an oppo safety with two outs to make it 3-0.

The Bucs were credited with five errors on the night, but four of them were errant throws on pickoff or steal attempts. Third baseman Brodie Lowe and Johnston at shortstop more than made up for that as the two combined for two double plays and eight flawless chances on ground balls. Johnston makes everything look easy, and Lowe did his best Nolan Arenado impression at the hot corner, gobbling up back hands down the line, dribblers in front of him and sharp hit grounders at him.

"He had a lot of opportunities tonight for sure, and handled them all," Pryor complimented.

The Mustangs (4-9) pushed across a run in the top of third, but it could have been more if not for Lowe's fantastic stab down the line and laser throw to get the leadoff batter. Hayden Harrison and Braxton Smith followed with back-to-back sharp singles to center and with runners on the corner an errant throw on Smith's steal of second brought Harrison scurrying home.

The Bucs promptly added another three spot in the bottom of the frame as Johnston led off with a towering homer to center, his third of the season and his 12th extra base hit. The Mr. Baseball finalist from a year ago is currently hitting .595 with seven doubles, two triples and three homers among his 22 hits and has hit safely in all 11 games.

"This team is capable and it's awesome to get to play with this group. We've got a bunch of hitters and a bunch of pitchers. It's gonna be a fun year," said Johnston.

Pryor utilized five pitchers with only starter Cooper Jones going more than an inning. Cooper went the first three with Carter Hinsley, Read Butler, Devin Shannon and Liam Cooper each getting an inning in. They combined to allow just five hits and struck out six on the night.

Aaron Hise drove in two runs following Johnston's third inning bomb with a liner between center and right. Mustang starter Titus Torbett was effective outside the two three-run innings, setting the Bucs down in order in both the second and fourth innings before giving way to relievers Cooper Cantrell and Kellar Stansell who didn't allow another hit after the third frame.

Walker Valley added runs in the fourth and fifth innings to make it another close one. Michael Pledge doubled on a one-hopper over the center field fence and scored after a wild pickoff attempt. In the fifth, Pledge reached on a catcher's interference and Torbett chased him home with a double.

Walker Valley will begin district play on Monday with Cleveland while Boyd Buchanan will take another week off before getting back into action next Friday versus Tate Creek.

Johnston and Gardenhire each had two hits for the winners while Torbett was the lone Mustang to reach base more than once, drawing a walk with his double.

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

-

R

H

E

WALKER VALLEY

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

-

3

5

0

BOYD BUCHANAN

3

0

3

0

0

0

X

-

6

9

5

Torbett, Cantrell (5), Stansel (6) and Smith; Jones, Hinsley (4), Butler (5), Shannon (6), Cooper (7) and Hise.  

WP: Jones  LP: Torbett

Records: Walker Valley 4-9; Boyd Buchanan 10-1.

(Contact James Beach at 1134james@gmail,com)

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