By Kyle Parmley
PINSON – Nine batters. Five walks. Two hit batters. Two strikeouts. A balk. No balls put in play. Four runs. A walk-off victory.
Those are the numbers from Pinson Valley’s half of the seventh inning Monday night. Trailing 3-0, the Indians batted around in the final frame and Rudd Mauldin walked to bring home the winning run in their 4-3 victory over visiting Gardendale.
Jacob Hallmark silenced the Indian bats for the first six innings, only needing to work out of a few jams. He came back in the seventh to strike out two of the first three batters he faced, but the last out proved evasive. Following three walks and a hit batter, Drew Love replaced Hallmark. Love walked and hit the only two batters he faced.
Enter Zach Cupps, who doubles as Gardendale’s starting quarterback in the fall. He fell behind 3-0 to Mauldin before easily tossing the first strike down the middle. But his next pitch missed badly, forcing in the deciding run and commencing the celebration. Mauldin struck out twice in earlier at-bats to end Pinson Valley threats in the first and sixth innings. His walk made up for that.
“It shows character and it shows some resiliency,” said head coach Shane Chappell regarding his team’s ability to come back. “That’s what we preach about. There are 21 outs for a reason. They got 20, but they couldn’t get 21. When you’re able to extend the game, you’ve got a chance.”
Aside from the thrill of the final inning, the first six and a half innings passed with relative ease for both sides. Brett Jordan toed the rubber for Pinson Valley and struck out the first two batters of the game before surrendering three straight hits, including a two-run double from Love to put Gardendale on the board first.
Jordan worked out of tight spots in the third and fourth innings and pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and striking out 10. Blake Mayes came on in relief to get the final out for the Indians, surrendering a hit and a walk but getting the win.
“Every outing he’s given us has been phenomenal,” Chappell said of Jordan. “If he doesn’t do a good job, we’re not in a position to hopefully come back in the end.”
In the fifth inning, the Rockets got a one-out walk from John Mathews. He was gunned down moments later trying to steal second base, as Baker Hodge slapped the tag on Mathews from a perfect feed from catcher Blake Sisson.
“You don’t always like to win when the game is given to you, but sometimes when that happens it can propel you and give you some energy,” Chappell said.
Pinson Valley faces area foe Huffman on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Due to poor field conditions at Huffman, the game will be played at historic Rickwood Field.