By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
PINSON — What looked like it might be a walkover of a Class 5A first-round playoff series turned out to be a little tougher than that, but Pinson Valley finally took down visiting Walker 10-0 in a six-inning third game to advance.
After dispensing with the Vikings 12-2 in five innings in Friday night’s first game, the tenth-ranked Indians may have been a shade complacent, and Walker took advantage. Pitcher Brad Eckmyre struggled, and was eventually pulled midway through a six-run rally in the fifth inning by the Vikings. Reliever Baker Hodge got nowhere literally; he gave up two more runs on two hits without recording an out.
Finally Zac Ray came in to clean up the mess, but by that time Walker had run out to a 10-2 lead, and the die was cast.
Pinson did make somewhat of a late run, thanks to a lead-off home run in the sixth by Tyler Evans, plus doubles by Jason McCurdy and Jason Little that led to two more runs, but that wasn’t nearly enough.
James Tidwell was the winning pitcher, despite allowing 11 hits against only two strikeouts. He also drove in two run with a double, and also hitting into a bases-loaded double play.
Carlos Robinson, Saige Harding and Richard McCarty each were 2-for-3 at the plate, and Logan Nix was 2-for-4 for Walker. Josh Hines went 3-for-4 for Pinson; Evans, Jared McCurdy and Scott Falkinburg each were 2-for-3.
Thoroughly chastened by the sub-par outing in the early game, the Indians more than made up for it in the deciding contest.
Bailey Chesser was in command on the mound from the start. The 6-foot-4 hurler allowed just three hits and struck out five as he went all six innings.
“Bailey did a great job of commanding the zone,” Indians coach Shane Chappell said. “When he’s in the zone he’s tough to hit, but one thing he’s lacked this year has been consistency from game to game.”
Pinson broke the game open with a six-run rally, which knocked sidewinder pitcher Brooks Wade out of the game before he could get a batter out in the third inning.
Josh Hines drove in four runs, two on a single in the third inning and two more on a double in the fifth. Downing also had a two-run hit in the third, and brought the game to an early end when he doubled to right field to score Baker Hodge.
Gracen Armstrong was 2-for-2 with two runs scored, and Jason Little was 2-for-3 and scored once.
It was a refreshing change for Chappell from the effort in the day’s opener.
“When you lose a game and your back’s against the wall, you play with a little more urgency,” he said. “I wanted that in Game One and we didn’t do that.”
Pinson moves on to the second round of the playoffs, and will travel to neighboring Mortimer Jordan for another best-of-three series starting Friday afternoon. The teams have met once this season in the Jefferson County Tournament, with the Indians winning a close 3-2 contest.