By Erik Harris
North Jefferson News
PINSON — With two down in the fifth inning, Mortimer Jordan’s Devlin Hodges was gone on the crack of the bat. It appeared to be a routine fly ball that escaped the glove of Scott Falkinburg, allowing Hodges to go first to home, extending the Devils’ lead to 2-0 over Pinson Valley.
After the hustle play, Jordan seemed primed to capture their 14th win of the season. Instead, the visiting Devils self-destructed defensively in the remaining three innings, and the Indians ended up with a 3-2 victory in the final pool-play game of the Jefferson County Schools Baseball Tournament on Wednesday.
The win gives Pinson (9-5) a spot in the championship bracket of the tournament, where they will travel to Pleasant Grove for a semifinal game on Thursday. Gardendale hosts Hueytown in the other semifinal.
Pinson’s Brad Eckmyre battled Jordan senior James Suchey on the mound all night. Both pitchers went the distance and threw well enough to win. Eckmyre recorded seven strikeouts and one base on balls, while Suchey struck-out nine (eight of them swinging) with three hit batsmen and three walks.
“Their pitcher did an outstanding job,” said Blue Devil coach Shayne Carnes. “He located, he kept us off balance and you have to play error-free to beat those guys.”
After a single and an error, the Indians had runners on first and second with one out in the fifth. A Hodges error allowed Gracen Armstrong to score from second, followed by Zac Ray’s RBI double to even the score at 2-2. A rare triple play ended the ugly fifth inning for the Devils.
“We have not been playing very well defensively the past week, we haven’t been catching the ball and our throws have been poor,” said Carnes.
Pinson was able to push the go-ahead run across when Falkinburg went from second to home on Armstrong’s RBI single.
Armstrong went 2-for-4 for the day, with an RBI and a run scored. Falkinburg delivered a 1-for-3 outing with a walk and a run scored.
Jordan (13-2) was able to load the bases in the top-half of the seventh with only one out and their cleanup batter at the dish. However, Eckmyre sat down the next two Devils with back-to-back strikeouts looking.
“You have to put the ball in play there. A base hit wins the game,” said Carnes.
Hodges, Ty Miller and Suchey — Jordan’s leadoff through three-hole hitters — went 4-for-8 with three walks. But their remaining six spots in the order combined for a 1-for-18 performance.
The Blue Devils (13-2) are relegated to the fifth-place bracket, and will go to Shades Valley on Thursday.