By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
KIMBERLY — Pinson Valley is a baseball team that lives primarily on its pitching.
And in Friday’s Class 5A second-round doubleheader at Mortimer Jordan, the 10th-ranked Indians not only lived, they thrived.
Pinson’s pitching duo of Colby Wingard and Wyatt Burns combined to hold the Blue Devils to six hits across both games, as the Indians swept the best-of-three series by scores of 3-2 and 2-0.
It was Burns in particular who held Jordan hitters at bay. The sidearm hurler struck out 12 batters and allowed just two hits and no walks. His pinpoint placement from one side of the plate to the other bedeviled the Devils all night.
That’s exactly what coach Shane Chappell was looking for.
“Wyatt Burns threw his tail off,” Chappell said. “He’s not even pitched in a playoff game yet. That was his first time. But that’s what we are buying into — not that we have better pitching than anybody, but nobody’s going to have more than us. We may run into a guy that’s better than us, but we have five or six guys that we have no problem in putting in a playoff game.”
It was not a perfect outing for Pinson by any means. Jordan’s pitchers, particularly Garrett Suchey and Ty Miller in the nightcap, gave the Indians all they could handle.
“There’s a lot we didn’t do well, like in the short game — bunting to get guys over. But luckily we had some guys come up and get some clutch hits,” Chappell said.
One of those was designated hitter Baker Hodge, whose single to center field in the sixth inning of the first game drove Tyler Evans home for what turned out to be the winning run. Evans hit a lead-off single, then stole second to get into scoring position.
Similarly in the second contest, it was a pair of RBI doubles — one by Josh Hines in the first inning, the other by Jared McCurdy in the fourth — that gave the Tribe all the runs they needed. Those doubles were two of only five hits conceded by Suchey, who otherwise had a solid outing on the mound for the Devils. He struck out two and walked two before being lifted with one out in the bottom of the fifth for Miller.
In the opener, Jordan struck first with single runs in the second and third innings. Taylor Goodwin’s line drive double to left scored Miller, then Wes Crawford brought across Nathan Stover to take a 2-0 lead.
Pinson tied the game in the fourth when Jason Little’s double scored Hines. Later in the inning, Austin Little hit into an an error at third base — the second of the inning — that allowed Gage Farley to reach home.
Jason Little was 2-for-3 for the Indians, as was Crawford for the Devils in the first game. They were the only multi-hit batters for either team the whole night.
Jordan coach Shayne Carnes knew the games would play out much as they did.
“They’ve got a good pitching staff, but I thought we played extremely hard and pitched well,” Carnes said. “In the first game we had two errors that cost us two runs, and that was the difference. In the second game, their guy [Burns] played his tail off. He had a great game plan and executed it well, hitting his spots. But we’re 38-10 and we had an outstanding year. As I look back over the course of the season, we did a lot of good things.”
Orion Recke took the pitching loss in the opening game with eight hits against five strikeouts, as he went the distance.
Pinson (31-10) moves on to the quarterfinal round, where they will meet the winner of the series between seventh-ranked Etowah and fifth-rated Southside-Gadsden. Those teams split their twin-bill Friday and will play the rubber game on Saturday.
If Etowah wins, they will host the Indians next Friday. If Southside prevails, the series will be played at Pinson.