Kent's Grand Slam Leads Walker Valley Past McCallie

Six-Run Fourth The Key As Mustangs Prevail, 8-6

  • Friday, April 19, 2024
  • John Hunt

We are fast approaching the end of the regular season for local high school baseball teams and many are still looking for just the right combinations as they enter post-season play with hopes of making a valid run at a state title.

Such was the case at Soddy Daisy’s Tom Higgins Field Friday afternoon where the Walker Valley Mustangs faced the McCallie Blue Tornado in action from the annual Trojan Classic.

McCallie entered Friday’s action with an 18-8 record while the Mustangs started the day at 10-13.  The Blue Tornado got off to a good start and had an early 2-0 lead, but Walker Valley knotted the score with two runs in the bottom of the third before putting the game away with a six-run fourth.

McCallie scored twice in both the fifth and seventh innings, but it was Walker Valley who captured the win by an 8-6 final.

McCallie bounced back in the second game with a 5-4 win over host Soddy Daisy.

“That was just another gutty performance by Michael Pledge as he just kept battling and did a good job of doing what we needed for him to do,” said Walker Valley coach Wes Anderson following the game.

“We’ve gone through more than our share of hard luck this spring and I just kept telling our kids that we just had to make one play at a time.  We also got a few big hits, but we still had to make that play at the end to win.

“This team has come a long way this season and I’m not sure we would have won this game earlier, but I liked the way we battled and we just want to keep it going tomorrow,” he said, knowing that his team faces Wilson Central and host Soddy Daisy on Saturday.

McCallie coach Tim Costo has been around baseball long enough to know that pitchers must throw strikes to have a chance of winning. He was quick to admit that his team’s inability to do that cost his team the win.

“Walks will get you beat every time,” Costo said while sitting in the dugout working on his lineup for his team’s second game of the day with Soddy Daisy.

“I thought we hit the ball well as our approach at the plate was good.  You normally win games when you get 11 hits and score six runs, but that wasn’t the case today.  We tried to throw first-pitch strikes, but that didn’t seem to work,” Costo added in a downcast tone.

Pledge was the winning pitcher for Walker Valley as he allowed four runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings.  He also had five strikeouts and three walks, but left the game with two outs in the fifth after getting Briggs Martin on a called third strike.

Run-scoring singles by Bryce Sanders in the second inning and Zach Porter in the third put McCallie up 2-0, but the Mustangs bounced back to tie it in the third.

Felipe Castellanos and Carson Minnix both led off with singles and later scored as Pledge drove in the first run with a fielder’s choice while Kellar Stansell singled to plate Minnix with the second.

Pledge dodged his first big bullet in the fourth when the Blue Tornado loaded the bases with two outs, but he got out unscathed when Chandler Jones flied to left to leave the bases full.

McCallie did it again in the fifth as Nolan Sergeant walked to lead off, Porter reached on an error and Nick Gibson singled to drive in a run before David Sabo reached on a perfect bunt.

Chap Bandy plated the second run with a single to left as the bases were still full with nobody out.  Pledge got Sanders on a swinging third strike before getting a called third strike on Martin before he was replaced by southpaw Cooper Henry, who got Noah Wilson on a fly to left to prevent further damage.

Meanwhile, the Mustangs took the lead with six runs in the fourth as they batted around and only had two hits.

Senior southpaw Hayden Choate had replaced McCallie starter Zach Murray to start the fourth and quickly got Hayden Harrison on a swinging strike for the first out.  The scrappy lefty had a tough time finding the strike zone as 16 of his next 20 pitches were balls, resulting in walks to the next four hitters. 

Conner Phillips got the easy RBI with the fourth one and that’s when Choate was replaced by Tyler Shortridge.  He gave up an RBI-single to pledge before getting Stansell on a pop to third for the second out, but Bryson Kent followed with a grand slam past the scoreboard in left to make it 8-2.

Trailing 8-4 going to the seventh for their final time at the plate, McCallie made it interesting with a pair of runs on a single by Wilson and a fielder’s choice grounder by Jones, but Henry coaxed Sergeant into a towering pop to third for the final out.

Stansell was the only Walker Valley player with two hits while Kent led the way with his four RBIs.

Wilson, Bandy and Sanders all had two hits each for McCallie.

McCALLIE  011 020 2 – 6 11 1

WALKER VALLEY  002 600 x – 8 6 1

Murray, Choate (4), Shortridge (4), Stonecifer (6) and Porter; Pledge, Henry (5) and Smith.

(Email John Hunt at

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