KIMBERLY — After a first game with all the twists and turns of a country road, the only suspense about the second game was the answer to a question: Would Nathan Stover pitch a prefect game?
He didn’t, but he came very close.
The Mortimer Jordan junior was perfect through six innings, and yielded just a walk and a base hit down the left field line. But more importantly for his team, he kept Pinson Valley at bay for a 7-0 win, and a sweep of their first-round Class 5A playoff doubleheader.
The Blue Devils won the first game 7-6 in nine innings, after the Indians scored three runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game in a back-and-forth affair.
For Stover, it wasn’t just the closest he had ever come to perfection. He usually works in relief, so...
“it was my first complete game — ever,” the still-shocked pitcher said just afterward.
Stover was not on coach Shayne Carnes' original plan for the second game of the twin-bill. He was going to go with Justin Folse, one of his regular starters, and would use Wes Crawford on Saturday if Jordan and Pinson split Friday's games.
But when first-game starter Taylor Goodwin got in trouble in the seventh inning, Carnes had to bring Crawford in to try to stop the damage, And when that game went into extra innings, there was some juggling that had to be done.
"We were going to start running into problems with appearance limits if it went to a third game, so I told Nathan to be ready," Carnes said.
Stover didn't get a lot or warning, though that's common — Carnes doesn't usually tell his starters a day ahead of when they'll take the mound. "I don't do that because it gives them a lot to think about. I just say, 'Show up,' and then, 'You're pitching, let's go,'" he said.