The Water Valley Blue Devils baseball team (12-5 overall, 3-1 in division play) was able to pick up two wins this past week. One win came at home against division rival Bruce Trojans, while the Blue Devils went on the road to beat the Byhalia Indians for the second win.
Tuesday, March 18 at Water Valley
The Blue Devils were able to earn their third division win by knocking off the Bruce Trojans at W.V.H.S field Tuesday, March 18. The Trojans were able to jump out to an early 4-0 lead after the top of of the first, but it would be all that they managed to put up against the Blue Devil pitching staff for the evening as the Devils were able to put up 15 unanswered runs. Blue Devil pitchers’ Tank Hervey and Josh Johnson shut the Trojan offense down the rest of the way, surrendering only four hits and issuing three walks throughout the game.
The Trojans’ offense seemed to be the Blue Devils’ defense opening up the game.
Two walks and two errors allowed the Trojans to put four runs on the board while only obtaining one hit in the top of the first inning. Hervey kept his composure and was able to get out of the inning by way of a couple of groundballs.
“We came out flat and they (Bruce) put four (runs) on the board. That was a little wake-up call for them (Water Valley),” said Head Coach Doug Robbins on his teams’ opening inning of play.
Hervey (5-1) definitely got the call. He was able to retire nine of the next ten batters in order, striking out three and picking off one. He was able to earn the win, pitching four innings while surrendering only one earned run.
“Tank didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but he battled and was able to keep it close and that is all that you can ask out of him,” commented Robbins on the righty’s performance.
Johnson entered the game in the top of the fifth and continued where Hervey had left off.
The sophomore showed good control of his pitches as he did not walk a batter and was able to get the Trojans hitters’ to groundout to shortstop Brandon Brooks three times. He finished with two strikeouts, while not allowing any runs.
“Josh Johnson came in and threw strikes. I knew that he would be fresh because he hadn’t thrown in awhile. He did exactly what we needed him to do.”
The best was yet to come for Johnson though.
Down, But Not Out
The Blue Devils went into the bottom of the fourth down two runs by the score of 4-2.
Josh Lowery’s one-out double started a string of four consecutive hits by the Blue Devils. Shonquayle Jenkins followed Lowery’s double with a RBI double of his own making the score 4-3. Chris Gaston followed in Jenkins footsteps with a RBI double as well, tying the game 4-4. Justin Brooks was able to find a hole in the right side of the infield with a RBI single to drive Gaston in making the score 5-4 in favor of the Blue Devils.
J. Brooks was able to get himself into scoring position, first by stealing second base, then by swiping third. A walk to Johnson put runners on the corners for the other half of the Brooks’ duo, Brandon. B.B. was able to drive his brother in with a sacrifice fly RBI to center, extending the Blue Devils lead by two with a score of 6-4.
Coach Robbins had suspected a big inning against the Trojans, but was not sure when it would happen.
“I told the guys, keep the ball game close, scratch for runs here and there and eventually we will have a big inning. Thankfully we did.”
Bats Stay Hot
Lowery has been unable to find many holes this season while at the plate. He has hit the ball hard, but it has always seemed to be right at somebody when he puts the ball in play. In the bottom of the fifth he was able to put the ball out of play and well out of the reach of any defender, smashing a two-run homerun over the right field fence making the score 8-4.
“I have been struggling lately and got in there thinking if I get a pitch, try to hit it well and out of the park. The main thing though is to just try to get back in the swing of things. I have not been seeing a lot of pitches to hit, when I get them, I just try to take advantage of them. Definitely gives me some confidence and puts a smile on my face,” said Lowery happily.
The four-run fourth was the big inning that the Blue Devils needed to get back into the game and the seven run sixth inning was the big inning to close the game.
Walt McCullough started the run filled sixth, singling into right field to drive in two. Lowery was able to drop a hit down the left field line for a double, moving McCullough to third base. Jenkins followed Lowery with a two-run single to make the score 12-4. Gaston was able to draw a walk, putting runners at first and second.
With two outs, Johnson stepped into the batter’s box needing only two more runs to close out the game.
After working his way to a 2-1 count Johnson turned on a fastball and sent it flying into the night and into the scoreboard for a walk-off three-run homerun.
“I didn’t even know it was gone. I made a good swing and thought it was a double. It just surprised me. A walk-off. I have never done that before. I was waiting on it and it was down the middle. It was the best pitch I saw all night,” said Johnson with an awe shucks grin on his face.
All nine Blue Devils were able to cross the plate at least one time on the evening with Lowery leading the way scoring three times. Johnson, McCullough, Jenkins and Gaston were able to cross the plate two times each as well.
Lowery and Jenkins paced the Blue Devils at the plate each going 3-for-4. Lowery finished with two doubles and a homerun with two RBI. Jenkins pounded out two doubles and a single with four RBI. Johnson was 2-for-3 with a single and a homerun, driving in three RBI and stealing three bases.
McCullough was 2-for-3 with a single and a double with two RBI. Gaston went 2-for-3 with a single and a double, driving in one RBI. J. Brooks was 1-for-3 with a single and a RBI. B. Brooks was 0-for-2, but was still productive at the plate as he had a sacrifice with two RBI. Pratt went 2-for-3 with a single and a double.
Saturday, March 22 @ Byhalia
The Blue Devils were able to beat the Byhalia Indians on their home turf 14-6.
Jenkins (1-1) picked up the win for the Blue Devils, throwing four innings and striking out five.
Hervey led the Blue Devils at the plate going 4-for-5 with three singles and a double, knocking in two RBI. Lowery went 2-for-3 with a single and a triple, driving in three RBI. McCullough was 2-for-5 with two singles and three RBI. Gaston was 2-for-5 with two singles and two RBI. B. Brooks was 2-for-4 with two singles. Johnson, Pratt and Jenkins each had a single as well.
As of presstime the Blue Devils will start a three game march thru division play. Division leader Ackerman comes to W.V.H.S field Tuesday, March 25. The Blue Devils will travel to Eupora Friday, March 28 to take on the Eagles. The Blue Devils are back at home Tuesday, April 1 to take on Hamilton. All three games feature junior varsity action that will start at 4:30 p.m. with varsity action to follow shortly after. Please come out and show support for your Water Valley Blue Devils as they start their trek thru division play.