By Kyle Parmley
PINSON – The weather finally cooperated. For just long enough.
A day after dealing with icy weather and treacherous travel, temperatures rose into the upper 50s on Saturday afternoon. Pinson Valley took advantage, sweeping Pleasant Grove in the Indians’ first home set of the baseball season. The second game concluded at an opportune time, because a heavy rain shower moved into the area fewer than 30 minutes following the final pitch.
Pinson Valley took the first game 8-4, going ahead with five first-inning runs and never relinquishing the lead. The Indians held off Pleasant Grove in the finale by a score of 3-1, thanks to a strong performance on the mound from Raul Tafoya and a game-winning hit from senior Jacob Brown.
“It was good to come out here today and have guys do what needed to be done to win the game,” Pinson Valley head coach Shane Chappell said. “We found ways to do it, getting the clutch hits and the pitchers threw good all day.”
In the second game, the two teams split a pair of run-scoring singles from Pleasant Grove’s Jordan Smith and Pinson Valley’s Jacob Ingram to leave the score tied 1-1 after two innings. The Spartans threatened again in the sixth inning, leaving two men on after a double and single. But the bottom half of the frame would belong to the Indians.
Following a flyout to deep right field from Baker Hodge, first baseman Jody Graves stepped up and laced a double into the gap. Two batters later, Brown delivered a first-pitch shot back up the middle to plate two runs and break the tie.
“It was a big hit,” Chappell said. “We only got three hits the whole game, but they were in clutch times. I was proud to see that we can win those games.”
Tafoya had no trouble finishing off Pleasant Grove, with a 1-2-3 seventh inning to close out the game. The junior hurler pitched around eight hits and recorded six strikeouts to notch the complete game victory.
“When you are pounding the zone like he was, it makes the day go a little easier,” Chappell said.
Pinson Valley got off to a rough start in the initial contest, trailing by three following the top half of the first inning due to an error that allowed two additional runs. But the Indians responded with a five-spot in the bottom half. The first three men reached base, and Graves cleared the bases with a single and an error. Brown and Turner Shankles added RBI hits later in the inning.
The Indians may have had a chance to add to their lead in the second inning, following Rudd Mauldin reaching on a hit-by-pitch. Catcher Blake Sisson ripped a shot to third, but the ball was slowed by a deflection off the third baseman’s glove. Mauldin was thrown out attempting to advance to third. Pinson Valley was on the positive end of a deflection in the next frame, as a liner bounced off of Mauldin’s glove and Hodge retrieved the ball at short and fired it to first to record the out.
Pleasant Grove’s best chance to get back into the game came in the sixth inning, as the first two men reached and one was singled home Andrew Hudson to cut the lead to four. Hudson tried to steal second base to draw the throw and get another run in, but the Indians were not fooled. Sisson threw the ball down to a waiting Ingram at second base, who quickly returned the throw to Sisson to catch the runner at the plate.
Shelton Clevenger threw five innings for the Indians to pick up the win, giving up only a single hit while striking out five to go with three runs allowed. Blake Mayes closed out the proceedings, pitching the final two frames.
Chappell is just ready for the weather to get its act together.
“I’m a big routine guy and baseball is a big routine sport. But we can only control what we can control, and we have done a good job with that so far.”
The Indians are back in action Wednesday evening, as they travel to Pelham before participating in the Jefferson County Tournament next weekend.