By Erik Harris
It took the full three games, but Pinson Valley outlasted Walker to win the first round playoff series with two mercy rule victories at home.
The Indians ended a waterlogged game one on Friday night in just five innings 12-2. However, they appeared sluggish in Saturday’s opener, falling to the Vikings 10-5 before returning to form with a 10-0 thrashing in the rubber match to save their seat in next week’s second round action.
“I like our chances in any series because we aren’t really going to run out of pitching,” said Pinson coach Shane Chappell. “We have six arms that we can run out there at any time and feel comfortable with.”
The Indians glide into round two with heavy momentum. They are winners of 16 of their last 19 games and will visit 5A Area 12 champs Mortimer Jordan for another best-of-three series starting next Friday.
After a weather delay and hours of field maintenance work, No. 10 Pinson took their soggy diamond zoned in for the series opener.
“As a coach you’re concerned with if your team can stay focused [despite the delay] and we did,” said Chappell. “Our guys stayed locked in like nothing had changed.”
The scoreboard was even at one all before four Walker errors and timely hitting fueled a four-run second inning for the home team. With two runs already scored, senior Josh Hines delivered a crushing two-out two-run double into the leftfield corner to give the Indians a 5-1 lead.
That score stuck until the bottom of the fourth when three Pinson doubles led to five more runs. Centerfielder Scott Falkinburg cleared the bases with a three RBI double down the leftfield chalk before Jason Little sent two more across with another double into left.
With pitcher Colby Wingard commanding the plate, a nine-run deficit was too much for Walker to overcome. The righty went the distance for the Indians, striking out seven and allowing only one walk.
“If it does go three, we feel like we have enough pitching depth, so I feel confident in the guys we will run out tomorrow,” said Chappell following Friday night’s win.
The second game of the series seemed to feature a desperate Walker squad outworking a proud Pinson lineup.
The Indians seemed to be still celebrating their dominant Friday night performance when they looked up and discovered they were at the bottom of a 4-1 hole after three innings of work.
Pinson manufactured one run in the fifth to pull within two before the visitors broke the game open with a six-hit, six-run bottom of the fifth.
First baseman Tyler Evans sparked the Indians offense when he delivered a solo shot over the leftfield wall to start the sixth. But it was too little, too late for Pinson, who was well on their way to a 10-5 loss.
After being threatened with a winner survives game three, Pinson got serious and sent the Vikings back to Jasper with a 10-0 series-ending whipping.
Righty Baily Chesser went the distance for the Indians. The senior recorded five strikeouts and two walks in six innings of shutout work.
“It was huge with Baily coming out in game three to throw lights out for us, giving them no opportunities to score,” said Chappell.
Despite leaving the bases loaded in the first two innings of play, Chesser got plenty of help from his offense, which recorded ten hits and a .390 average with runners in scoring position.
Pinson caught fire in the third with a six-run outburst that killed Walker’s will early. Both Joseph Downing and Josh Hines delivered two-RBI singles to secure a 7-0 advantage.
The Indians plaited two more in the fifth. Then, in the following inning, Downing burned the Viking outfield with a walkoff single that scored Baker Hodge from third.