CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Joe Shamblin was up most of Monday night, battling through a gut-wrenching virus.
To add to his woes, his baseball team was packed and ready for a four-day trip to Charleston, S.C., and he wasn't looking forward to battling a bug or traffic on the eight-hour drive. Then there were the 37-degree temperature, the blustery winds, the sun playing peek-a-boo behind sinister clouds and the off-and-on snow showers.
"I don't think I've coached one in weather like this in 15 or 16 years, but I'd do it every day for results like this," he said after his Walker Valley Mustangs pulled off a 3-0 victory over the favored Hurricanes of East Hamilton.
The Mustangs, who lost two potential starting pitchers before the season began, relied heavily on burly John Simmons, who stymied the Hurricanes with a variety of changeups and looping curves and an occasional fastball.
"I guess you could say he's the secret of the district. Nobody knows much about him," Shamblin said.
Simmons allowed seven hits, but only two Hurricanes got as far as third base, both advancing on errors. He also chalked up six strikeouts in the seven-inning performance.
"You have to credit Walker Valley," Hurricanes coach Steve Garland said. "Their pitcher kept our hitters off balance, and they executed in the fifth offensively."
Simmons and Hunter Smith dueled through the first four innings with Smith allowing just a first-inning infield single. However, Smith opened the fifth by walking Dillan Church before Elijah Walker beat out a bunt. Brian Oliver sacrificed both into scoring position and Church scored on a wild pitch before West crossed the plate on a passed ball.
The Mustangs got their third run when Simmons doubled to left field and Stu Clark followed with an RBI single to left-center.
East Hamilton had its chances, specifically in the third and fifth innings. In the third Matt Waters walked but then got thrown out at third, trying to advance when nobody initially covered on Matt Milita's bunt single. Matty Henshaw reached on an error and Milita got to third, but two line drives -- to third and short -- ended the opportunity.
Hunter Parker singled but was eventually picked off at third by Mustangs catcher Oliver.
"Sub-par hitting and baserunning puts undue pressure on your pitcher and defense. Hunter [Smith] pitched well enough to win," Garland said.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...