By Erik Harris
With the flowers of May ready to open, most baseball teams across the state have seen their season come to its inescapable close. Meanwhile, Pinson Valley is blossoming into a team capable of hanging banners.
After sweeping Mortimer Jordan on their own field in the second round playoff series, the Indians look to stay sharp for their quarterfinals opponent- the winner of Etowah at Southside-Gadsden.
Pinson claimed a pair of defensive struggles Friday night, winning the opener 3-2 and the nightcap 2-0.
Two Indian arms delivered great outings for first year coach Shane Chappell. Righty Colby Wingard improved his season record to 9-0 with a six-strikeout performance in game one, and senior Wyatt Burns hurled Pinson into the third round with a nearly flawless 12 strikeout shutout in his first career post-season appearance.
“What we really believe is, not that we have better pitching than anybody, but we’re going to have as many pitchers as anybody; no ones going to have more than us [on the mound],” said Chappell of his pitching rotation.
Though the Indians weren’t able to produce the big offensive numbers they compiled last week against Walker, they delivered with runners aboard. Pinson hit .308 with runners in scoring position for the series.
“As we’ve moved on, we’ve developed more confidence and winning helps,” said Chappell. “We play relaxed and don’t allow the situation to overwhelm us.”
The host Blue Devils appeared to be cruising in game one with a 2-0 lead through three innings of play. That is, until a clutch two-run fourth was engineered by the Indians. Third baseman Jason Little squeezed a one-run double down the leftfield line before his twin brother Austin chopped into a two-out error that sent one more across to tie the game at 2-2.
In the top of the sixth, the crowd confused Baker Hodge as a seasoned veteran. The sophomore drove a two-out single back up the middle to score the go-ahead run. Wingard finished strong, benching the first three Jordan batters of the seventh.
Pinson wasted no time taking control of game two from the start. Shortstop Josh Hines feasted on a Garrett Suchey fastball to score Gracen Armstrong from first and claim an early 1-0 advantage.
Three innings later, Hines would score from second off a Jared McCurdy liner that burned the Blue Devil outfield. Two runs would be enough help for Burns to earn the win.
His sidearm delivery sat down 18 consecutive Jordan hitters.
“Fortunately for us, in game two Wyatt Burns threw his tail off,” said Chappell
. “That was his first time pitching in the playoffs.”
Nine-hole hitter Joseph Downing went 2-for-5 on the night. Hines delivered a 2-for-6 evening and Evans went 2-for-7.
The Indians have a playoff batting average of .304, along with a .426 on base percentage.