By Kyle Parmley
ALABASTER –The Indians live to fight another weekend this season.
Pinson Valley (28-12) defeated Walker by identical 3-2 scores to sweep the first round Class 6A baseball state playoff series. After a week of fighting horrible weather and playing field conditions, the teams traveled to Thompson High School on Saturday to play the pair of games.
“We haven’t played in a week. We haven’t seen live pitching in a week. We haven’t really practiced in a week,” Pinson Valley head coach Shane Chappell said. “Everybody in the state is the same way.”
Neither team scored more than a single run in any inning throughout the day. Pinson Valley’s pitching held up and the Indians came through with just enough clutch hits to secure the wins.
“Our guys did a good job of handling some adversity,” Chappell said. “When they would score, we would answer back with one and keep it to where we felt like the game wasn’t getting away from us. And our pitching just did a really good job.”
Senior pitcher Brett Jordan set the tone early for the Indians, hurling a complete game victory in the first game. He scattered six hits throughout his seven innings and also walked and struck out three batters apiece.
“Just throw strikes and set them down,” Jordan said when asked of his plan coming into the game. “(I have) to keep practicing and working hard.”
Hunter Davidson refused to be outmatched in the second game, also tossing the total seven innings. Davidson only allowed three hits, struck out nine hitters and did not issue a walk.
Pinson Valley has allowed four or fewer runs in 30 out of the 40 games it has played this season. Great efforts on the mound have come to be expected.
“It’s almost to the point where we’re not shocked anymore,” Chappell said. “Not just from those two, but from our pitching staff in general. Brett and Hunter did exactly what we needed them to do. They did a really good job.”
In the first game of the day, Pinson Valley took the early edge with a run in the second inning, thanks to a fielding error by the shortstop that allowed Jody Graves to score and extend the inning.
The Vikings tied the score in the next half inning, as James Tidwell ripped a double to left to drive in a run. Pinson Valley wasted no time taking the lead back in the bottom of the third, as a Destin Davidson bunt turned into a carnival of errors. The throw to first sailed into right field and as Davidson made his way toward third, another throw into left field allowed him to jog home safely.
Walker scored on an infield single in the sixth to tie the game at 2, but the Indians once again countered with the game-winning run. Rudd Mauldin led off the frame with a double but was promptly picked off. But the Indians started another rally with two outs via consecutive hit batters. Destin Davidson came through again with an RBI single up the middle to plate Raul Tafoya.
Bryant Atkins toed the rubber for the Vikings, and pitched all six innings. He allowed five hits and struck out three batters, and was saddled with the loss.
The second game of the day mirrored the first in many ways, as neither team led by more than a single run. Walker took the lead in the second with a run-scoring triple from John Reed. Pinson Valley tied the game in the fourth on a Gage Farley fielder’s choice.
The Indians captured the 2-1 advantage the next inning thanks to a bloop single into shallow center field from Blake Sisson, but that would not last long. Walker tied the game at 2 in the bottom half of the fifth, as Atkins grounded out to score Reed.
Sisson came through big again in the seventh inning, lifting the game-winning sacrifice fly to center field to score Destin Davidson, who led off the inning with a triple. Hunter Davidson left second base too soon on the play and was ruled out on the appeal, but the Indians were still credited with the run.
Tidwell got the start on the mound for Walker, pitching six innings and giving up two runs and seven hits with eight strikeouts.
It was originally thought that the Indians would host Gardendale in a second round series to begin Friday, April 24. But the Alabama High School Athletic Association has confirmed that the spring sports handbook was incorrect, and that Pinson Valley will travel to Gardendale, who swept Clay-Chalkville in its first round series.
“They have a really athletic club (throughout the lineup) and have about three or four pitchers that can really throw it,” Chappell said. “We expect a three-game series, tight ballgames every game. We just need to go back to work this week.”