By Tim Chambers
A promising future appears to be just over the horizon for Hampton baseball fans. The middle school squad moved into a tie for first place in the league with an impressive 9-7 win over Happy Valley on Tuesday at Cannon-Gouge Park.
Hampton (11-3) is now tied with Providence and Johnson County with one league loss apiece. It avenged an earlier loss to the Warriors just a few weeks ago.
“We’re a very young baseball team, so this is a big win,” said Hampton head coach Greg VanTassell. “We’re getting better as the season progresses and that’s what you want to see. We’re going 11-12 deep on our bench. Today John Cole had big bunt single for us, and David Fleenor stole a base and scored as a courtesy runner. Everyone seem to do something good in the win.”
The game was tied 3-3 after two innings of play before the Bulldogs rallied for four runs to go up 7-3 in the third. Dalton Blair had a two-run triple, which proved to be the biggest hit in the inning.
Happy Valley tried to peck away, getting a solo run in the bottom half, but the ’Dogs responded with two more in the fourth.
Jacob Byrd and Blair each drove home runs with base hits. The Tribe, however, refused to give up. A two-run single by Ryne Baines in the bottom half got them within two at 9-7.
Neither team would score in the final frame.
Chris Holtsclaw pitched 32⁄3 innings to get the win. Wyatt Lyons came on in relief to pick up the save. Dustin Sams suffered the loss.
Blair swung the big stick for the ’Dogs, going 2-for- 3 with three RBIs. Austin Vines reached base safely four times and was 1-for-2.
Dru Owens and Brenden Ailport were 1-for-2 apiece with a run scored. Byrd and Holtsclaw added one hit apiece with an RBI. John Cole was 1-for-1, a key bunt base hit that ended up with two runners scoring.
Caleb Jones led the Warriors at the plate, going 2-for-2 with two runs. Baines was 1-3 with three RBIs. Nathan Kyte and Colby McKeehan had RBI base hits, and Forrest Hall contributed a 1-for-2 effort. Tyler Hurley walked and scored twice.
Hampton could wrap things up by winning at Johnson County on Thursday and against Providence at home on Friday. Happy Valley will face Greeneville at home on Thursday.
The Warriors fell to 6-6 after starting the season 6-1.
“Most teams are pretty even, so you can’t take anyone for granted in this league, said Happy Valley’s skipper Daniel Carder. “We’ve not played sound baseball lately and the other teams have. That’s why they’re on top.”
Hampton 214 20 — 9 8 0
Happy Valley 301 13 — 7 6 0
Holtsclaw, Lyons (4) and Blair. Sams and Morefield. W—Holtsclaw. L—Sams.