Mortimer Jordan sweeps Pinson Valley out of playoffs
By Erik Harris
For The Tribune
KIMBERLY — For the second year in a row Pinson Valley found itself in Kimberly for a playoff series against Mortimer Jordan, and for the second year in a row there was a Friday-night sweep, but this time instead of celebrating his team’s survival down the first base line, coach Shane Chappell delivered his closing statements to this year’s senior class.
The Indians dropped a heartbreaker in the nine-inning opener 7-6 and followed it up with a 7-0 loss in the nightcap.
“Our seniors did a great job. Very high-character people and they did a good job of leading by example, showing how to be young men and we’re going to miss them,” Chappell said.
Despite falling into a 3-0 hole early, Mortimer Jordan fought back to take the series opener against Pinson Valley 7-6 in nine innings.
Two ninth-inning errors and a Brett Jordan wild pitch was enough to push Blue Devil third baseman Walker McCleney across for the walk-off victory.
McCleney reached on a fielder’s choice before Pinson Valley first baseman Zac Ray committed a throwing error that put runners on the corners. Chappell elected to load the bases with an intentional walk before the decisive wild pitch ended the contest.
“I felt like if we could win that game, we had a chance to sweep and if we didn’t, we had a chance to be swept and that was a big momentum shift,” Chappell said.
Pinson Valley (20-19) wasted no time jumping on its hosts, plating one run in each of the first three innings while righty Brent Stephens retired the first six Blue Devils in order.
However, the Mortimer Jordan bats came to life in the bottom half of the third. After two extra-base hits and four RBIs, the Blue Devils went from down three to up one and they never looked back.
First baseman Nathan Stover delivered a crushing two-run triple into right-center that extended the Mortimer Jordan lead to 6-3 through four innings.
That score stuck until the Pinson Valley bats came to life in the seventh. Four hits were good enough to fuel a three-run inning that sent the game into extras.
The second game was simple. Mortimer Jordan junior pitcher Nathan Stover simply hit his spots, kept the Pinson Valley batters off balance and off the base paths. Stover went the distance with a one-hit shutout that sent the Blue Devils on to the second round with a 7-0 win.
“Their guy out on the mound did a great job,” Chappell said. “So when you have momentum going against you and a guy out on the mound on top of that, it makes it that much tougher.”
Chappell said Stover’s delivery presented a challenge his hitters don’t often see.
“He has a little funky delivery,” he said. “Any time you have a guy that comes at a low arm angle, that makes it a little more difficult because guys aren’t used to seeing that.”
Junior Hunter Davidson delivered the only Pinson Valley hit, a double in the final inning. He finished the series 3-for-7, as did shortstop Destin Davidson. Jordan went 3-for-8.
“We’ve got a lot of our key players returning, which is always a good thing,” Chappell said. “We’ve still got to work on fixing and building an identity because I think that’s something we kind of struggled with this year.”