PINSON — Pinson Valley pitcher Bailey Chesser didn’t sleep much Friday night, in anticipation of his call to the mound for the deciding game of the Indians’ Class 5A quarterfinal playoff series against Southside-Gadsden.
On Saturday night, he probably didn't get much sleep, either, but for a very different reason.
Pinson pulled off a heart-stopping victory over the Panthers Saturday, coming back with two runs in their half of the seventh inning to win the game 4-3, and the series two games to one.
“I didn’t sleep at all, then I couldn’t sleep today because we had to come get the field ready,” Chesser said.
And after the first three innings, Chesser might have been having nightmares, as the Panthers put up a run in the first thanks to yet another lead-off hit from Drew Mullinax, then two more in the third off an error, a Blake DeVine single and a Braxton light bunt single that left the bases loaded when Pinson infielders didn't cover first base.
Chesser got out of that jam with the bases loaded but relatively little damage, and then got into his groove. Except for another scary Mullinax base hot to lead off the bottom of the seventh, the 6-foot-4 Auburn signee retired the next 12 Panther batters in order.
“As soon as I walked into the dugout, the whole team was behind me,” Chesser said. “They told me, ‘Go hit your spots and get guys out and we’ll get you those runs.’ And they did.”
The Indians’ bats had been rather quiet up to that point, aside from on three hits to lead off the second inning. Jared McCurdy’s hit brought home Tyler Evans to tie the game at 1-1.
The turnaround began in the sixth, and got no small amount of help from Southside mistakes, including a nasty string of hit batsmen. One of those, in which Panther reliever Patrick Lister plunked pinch hitter Baker Hodge with the bases loaded, cut the lead to one run.