The regular season for the Water Valley Blue Devils baseball season came to an end this past week with the Blue Devils closing out the season with four consecutive wins, three of which came over division opponents; Hatley, Bruce and Ackerman.
Tuesday, April 8
The Blue Devils (17-7 overall, 7-3 in division play) traveled to Hatley and picked up a 10-2 victory over the Tigers with a complete game performance by Blue Devil pitcher Josh Johnson.
Johnson (5-2) struck out nine, walked one and allowed only four hits in seven innings of work.
The Blue Devils offense was held scoreless for the first three innings, but managed to put runs up in all four of the games final frames with four runs in the fourth, one in the fifth, two in the sixth and three in the seventh.
The offensive attack was led by freshmen Drew Pratt and Walt McCullough who both connected with two singles each. Justin Brooks was 1-for-2 with a three-run double and scored once. Josh Lowery and Shonquayle Jenkins each had an RBI with Lowery hitting a double and scoring two runs and Jenkins singling and scoring a run. Tank Hervey went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Johnson and Chris Gaston each added singles.
Thursday, April 10
The road trip continued for the Blue Devils, traveling to Bruce to take on the Trojans. It was “Senior Night” for the Trojans, but it was not all roses for the Trojans’ seniors as the Blue Devils picked up the win 10-1.
A four-run second inning highlighted by Johnsons’ two-run double set the pace for the Blue Devils offense as they went on to put up a run in every inning except the fifth.
“The past two games I haven’t been hitting the ball well. I just stepped in with a two-strike approach and shortened up my swing and tried to find some holes. I got ahead in the count and was looking fastball and he (Trojan pitcher Blake Peden) came in there. You can’t miss those,” Johnson said.
The Blue Devils put one run on the board in the fourth and fifth inning by way of RBI singles off the bats of Jenkins and Brandon Brooks.
Pratt started the three-run sixth with a two run single to drive in J. Brooks and B. Brooks. Hervey followed suit with an RBI single of his own to drive in Pratt.
Gaston drove in the final run for the Blue Devils, grounding into a double play to drive in Lowery from third.
“Offensively we hit the ball well tonight. We got 10 hits and really put some good swings on the ball. I was overall pleased with how we played tonight,” Water Valley coach Doug Robbins said.
The night looked promising for the Trojans as they jumped out to a 1-0 lead after the first, but the one run would be all that they could manage to pick up off the pitching duo of Hervey (6-3) and B. Brooks. The tandem combined to allow only three hits on the night.
B. Brooks threw 4.2 innings in relief after being called on for Hervey who relinquished the mound due to a nagging back ache. B. Brooks scattered three hits, struck out four and walked three in his time on the hill.
“My fastball and change-up was working for me, it is really what I have been working with all year. I just came in wanting to throw strikes,” B. Brooks said.
“Brooks (Brandon) threw a short bullpen yesterday and he looked really sharp. I was hoping we wouldn’t have to use him tonight because I had planned on starting him against Ackerman. But this game was a lot more important because we basically had to win this game looking at a number three (division seed) standpoint .We went ahead and used him and he did well,” commented Robbins on the juniors’ performance.
Johnson, B. Brooks, Pratt and Jenkins all went 2-for-4 at the plate. Johnson finished with two doubles and two RBIs. Pratt had two singles and drove in two. B. Brooks and Jenkins each had singles and drove in one a piece. Hervey was 1-for-4 with an RBI single. Lowery went 1-for-2 with a double.
Friday, April 11
A trip to division-leader Ackerman concluded with an 8-7 Blue Devil win.
The Blue Devils mustered up six runs in the top half of the first inning and never relinquished the lead.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh inning the Blue Devils held an 8-6 lead. The Indians lead-off batter reached base by way of error and stood at third base with no outs. The next Indians’ batter sent a shot to right field that looked like it was going to be out of the ball park, but McCullough scaled the fence to take the homerun away and contain the lead. Johnson struck out the next two batters to close out the game a preserve the win.
Jenkins (2-1) earned the win for the Blue Devils, pitching five innings, striking out five and walking five. He gave up six runs on four hits. Johnson picked up the save throwing the final two innings, striking out four and walking one, allowing no hits.
Johnson finished at the plate 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Hervey was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. J. Brooks went 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Pratt was 1-for-4 with a double and drove in a run. Jenkins was 1-for-3 with an RBI single. Gaston added an RBI. Lowery and B. Brooks each had a hit.
Saturday, Aril 12
“Senior Day” at W.V.H.S field ended with the Blue Devils knocking off the illustrious 5A South Panola 10-9.
The Blue Devils were down 7-2 going into the bottom of the fifth, but with two outs managed to scratch out six runs in the bottom half of the frame highlighted by J. Brooks two-run single.
The Tigers put two runs on the board in the top half of the sixth, but the Blue Devils matched their effort putting up two of their own in the bottom of the sixth and holding on to earn the win.
Lowery (1-0) earned the victory for the Blue Devils, throwing two innings while giving up two runs and two hits. Johnson picked up the save pitching the final inning of the game allowing no hits and striking out one. McCullough started on the mound for the Blue Devils. He went four innings, allowing seven runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking four.
McCullough led the Blue Devils at the plate going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Johnson, Pratt and Hervey all went 2-for-4 on the day with Pratt and Hervey picking up and RBI each. J. Brooks and Jenkins both were 1-for-3 each driving in two runs.
Water Valley will begin a three-game playoff series Friday night at W.V.H.S field hosting East Union for one game at 5 p.m. The remainder of the series will be played at East Union Saturday afternoon starting at 1 p.m. If a third game is necessary it will follow shortly after the 1 p.m. game. Please come out and support your Water Valley Blue Devils as they start their march through the playoffs.