Pinson storms back against Southside, heads to semifinals
By Gary Lloyd
The road that dead-ends with a state championship ring continues for Pinson Valley.
The No. 10 Indians scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning and held No. 5 Southside-Gadsden at bay in the bottom of the frame to win the decisive third game of the Class 5A quarterfinal series 4-3.
Pinson Valley (32-12) will play Friday in the semifinals against the winner of the Homewood-Hartselle series. The Indians would host Homewood or travel to Hartselle.
In the top of the seventh, Joseph Downing and Scott Falkinburg were hit by pitches, and a Gracen Armstrong single to right field scored Downing to tie the game at 3.
A single to the right side by Josh Hines then scored Falkinburg. It was Hines’ lone hit of the three-game series. It earned him a Gatorade bath on a chilly night at Pinson Valley.
“It’s a great feeling,” Hines said. “I love doing whatever I can to help my team win. Even when I’m struggling, it just takes one pitch.”
One pitch almost tied it up in the bottom of the seventh, when Southside-Gadsden’s Blake DeVine lined out to Hines with a runner at third base to end the game.
“I love making plays for my team and doing whatever I can to help us win,” Hines said. “If that’s what it takes, I’m going to do it.”
Senior Bailey Chesser tossed a complete game for Pinson Valley, allowing five hits while striking out nine batters. He pitched perfect innings in the fourth, fifth and sixth, and allowed just one hit over his final four innings.
“I felt like everything was in the groove tonight and I could bring it,” Chesser said.
Chesser said it was the most emotional game he’s been a part of, noting he’s best friends with three or four players on the Southside-Gadsden roster.
Pinson got its first two runs on a Jared McCurdy RBI single that scored Tyler Evans in the second inning and an RBI hit-by-pitch against Baker Hodge that scored Hines in the sixth.
Chesser admitted he didn’t sleep Friday night or Saturday morning, and Tweeted in the wee hours that “This is it.”
“It could either be the beginning of a great run or the end of it,” Chesser said. “We played every aspect of the game right tonight. We all brought it and we knew we had to.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.