By Kyle Parmley
CLAY – After losing the first game of the series Tuesday, the Clay-Chalkville baseball team needed to win both games Wednesday to attain a split of the series and secure the tiebreak advantage over Shades Valley. They did just that.
The Cougars took a big step toward a postseason berth Wednesday, grinding out a pair of tough wins against Class 6A, Area 12 foe Shades Valley.
In the first game, Clay-Chalkville was forced to battle back from a deficit three times to secure a 7-6 victory in nine innings.
The Mounties held a 2-1 lead after an inning of play, but the Cougars scored three runs of their own in the second to build a 4-2 advantage. Shades Valley took no time erasing the margin, tying the score at 4 in the top of the third.
The score remained knotted at 4 through the normal seven innings of play, forcing the game to continue. Matthew Calvert got the start on the mound for Clay-Chalkville and continued to pitch into extra innings.. He was replaced in the ninth after surrendering a leadoff homer to Claude Newell, leaving Calvert with a final line of eight innings pitched, seven strikeouts, and four earned runs. Christian Crawford retired the side in the ninth, and would eventually pick up the win.
Tyler Duke picked up three hits in the first game with a pair of doubles. Blake Petty chipped in with a double of his own, and Wesley Meier and Jalen Buckner each notched a couple of hits.
Calvert surrendered single runs in the eighth and ninth innings, and the Cougars responded both times. Knowing they needed another run to keep the game alive and two to win, Jeremy Rhodes led off the bottom of the ninth with a single. Calvert advanced Rhodes to second on a groundout for the first out of the inning. Meier stepped up and singled, putting runners on first and third base with only one out.
Clay-Chalkville turned to small ball to bring home the tying run, as Chandler Parker executed a squeeze bunt to score. A throwing error allowed Meier to advance the third, representing the winning run. Buckner made the most of the situation and delivered, singling to bring Meier in to score to give the Cougars a win.
The first two games of the series are the only ones that count toward the area record, but a third game was held to determine which team would hold the tiebreaker if such a solution is needed at the end of the season.
The latter game of the evening was another back-and-forth affair, with two ties and four lead changes. Clay-Chalkville snapped a 4-all tie with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and that score would hold for the remainder of the contest.
Duke had another impressive game at the plate, picking up two hits including a double. Rhodes, Calvert, Meier and Petty all registered an RBI for the Cougars.
Colton Friday came on to pitch the fourth and fifth innings, and picked up the win. Parker shut the Mounties down in the final two frames to get the save.
Shades Valley’s RaShad Louie was saddled with the loss in both games.
Clay-Chalkville plays host to Etowah in a doubleheader Friday before taking aim at the Mountain Brook Spring Break Tournament next week. The Cougars will face Huffman in their final area series on April 7 and April 9.