By Erik Harris
TRUSSVILLE – Class 6A No. 10 Pinson Valley visited Class 7A No. 4 Hewitt-Trussville for a double dip Saturday that ended with a split decision.
The 11 a.m. game went to the Indians by a count of 6-3. Game 2 went back and forth late, but was eventually won by the hosts in walk-off fashion.
Game 1: Pinson Valley 6, Hewitt-Trussville 3
Junior right-hander Raul Tafoya got the nod for the visitors and took advantage of his opportunity. Tafoya threw three pitches for strikes and kept the Huskies’ bats quiet throughout.
“Whenever I get my curveball working, I feel good up there,” Tafoya said.
He held Hewitt-Trussville hitless for five innings while his offense built a 5-2 lead. In the top of the sixth inning, Tafoya helped his own cause by lifting a sacrifice fly into right field, increasing his cushion to four runs.
After five quiet plate appearances, the Huskies went to work in the home half of the sixth. Right fielder Jamison Stennis got it started with a leadoff single, breaking Tafoya’s no-hitter.
Third baseman Carter Pharis later sent Stennis home with an RBI single back up the middle. That’s all Tafoya would surrender. He worked his way out of a no-out hole with two runners aboard with three straight groundouts.
Pinson Valley sophomore Rudd Mauldin broke the game open in the third with a two-out, bases-clearing double into left-centerfield, a liner that was nearly gloved by Grayson Cash.
Despite his team’s production, Indians head coach Shane Chappell felt that his bats failed to put the game out of reach.
“Offensively for us, we scored six runs, got 10 hits, it looks like we had a good offensive day, but we feel like we left a lot out there,” Chappell said.
Game 2: Hewitt-Trussville 9, Pinson Valley 8
Pinson Valley held a pair of late leads but was unable to hold off surges from the home team. Stennis took the walk-off hit by pitch in the back. It got started for the Huskies with two sixth-inning singles by Justin Booker and Ed Johnson. A groundout off the bat of Quin Jackson later plated Booker to make it a one-run Indians’ lead.
Cash extended the inning with a two-out, three-run blast over the left field fence to give his team a 6-4 advantage going into the top of the final frame. That was his first career home run.
“His first career home run couldn’t come at a better time,” Hewitt-Trussville head coach Jeff Mauldin said.
Pinson Valley responded with a four-run seventh that was fueled by three consecutive walks. Indians’ shortstop Destin Davidson sent two across when he singled into right field, knotting the game at 6-all.
Jody Graves followed that up with sacrifice fly into center field, scoring runners from second and third.
However, Pinson Valley’s 8-6 lead was short-lived. Four Hewitt-Trussville batters were plunked in the bottom of the seventh. That wild pitching along with a passed ball sent three runs across for the win.
“They gave us the game a little bit with four hit batters, but you’re proud of our guys for not bailing out of the way, taking it for the team, that’s what we talk about doing,” Mauldin said.
The Huskies slapped their first two home runs of the season off the Indians. Cash’s blast came two frames after Booker went the other way for a solo homer in the fourth.
Pinson Valley welcomes Bob Jones for a doubleheader Monday before it begins postseason play against Walker on Friday at home.
“They’re a good team and coach Chappell does a great job,” Mauldin said. “They’re going to do well in the playoffs and I hope they win it all.”