Due to inclement weather, the Water Valley Blue Devils baseball team had not played in 10 days, and it showed. The Blue Devils were out of sync, committing seven errors in a 10-0 loss to division-opponent Hamilton Lions at W.V.H.S field Monday night.
Mental mistakes as well as fielding errors had runners in scoring positions for Dylan Earnest and Kevin McCartney when they each connected with two-run, two-out doubles off of Blue Devil pitcher Tank Hervey in the first and second innings.
“I don’t think the deficit got us down, I think the way we were playing got us down. There is a couple of plays that we should have made and I think those hurt us more than the runs,” Water Valley coach Doug Robbins said.
Justin Brooks shortly awakened the Blue Devils offense with a leadoff single off the left field wall in the bottom of the third inning and advanced to second base off an errand pickoff attempt. Brandon Brooks’ one-out single to right field was thought to be good enough to drive in J. Brooks, but a slip around third base held the senior up. The Blue Devils failed to execute with the runner in scoring position and stranded J. Brooks at third.
The start of the top of the fourth inning had all the makings for a big inning for the Lions as their first two batters reached base by way of an error and a hit. The Lions put up six runs on five hits before the Blue Devils turned a double play to record the first out of the inning. A deep fly ball to Blue Devil right fielder Walt McCullough set the double play up, as he showcased his arm gunning down the Lions runner trying to advance to third.
The Blue Devils hoped to get a big inning of their own in the bottom of the fifth after leadoff batter J.D. Fondon reached base by way of an error, but Lions pitcher Chase Reeves shut the door on any Blue Devil comeback with three straight strikeouts to close out the game.
Even with the loss, something could still be gained for the Blue Devil team.
“If they watched and paid attention to the way that Hamilton took advantage of our mistakes, just about every time that we made a mistake Hamilton capitalized. I would say ninety percent or more of high school baseball games outcomes are determined by that. The team that takes advantage of the mistakes comes out ahead and are going to win in high school baseball,” Robbins said.
Hervey (5-3) took the loss for the Blue Devils, throwing three plus innings, allowing eight runs on seven hits, striking out five and walking three. Shonquayle Jenkins and McCullough each saw action on the mound. Jenkins came into relief in the fourth and gave up a hit and two runs. McCullough pitched a 1-2-3 fifth.
J. Brooks and Hervey were both 1-for-2 with a single each. B. Brooks was 1-for-3 with a single as well.
At press time, next action for the Blue Devils will be on the road at division opponent Hatley Tuesday, April 9 with junior varsity action beginning at 4:30 p.m. and varsity to follow shortly after. The division road trek continues with games at Bruce and Ackerman. The Blue Devils travel to Bruce Thursday, April 10 for another round of split-squad action starting at 4:30 p.m. with junior varsity. The division road trek’s last stop is in Ackerman Friday, April 11. Junior Varsity action will begin at 4:30 p.m. with varsity to follow shortly after.
The final regular season home games will be held Saturday, April 12 at W.V.H.S field with a day-night doubleheader against South Panola starting at noon and South Pontotoc beginning at 5 p.m. Both games are split quad action with junior varsity playing first in both games. Please come out and support your Water Valley Blue Devils baseball team as they continued their march to the playoffs.