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Blue Devils Knock Off Top Seed In Region 2-2A

Walt McCullough (above, right photo) sets up a bunt during the first game against Hamilton. He was able to produce a game-winning squeeze bunt in the ninth inning. – Photo by Judy Robbins

Josh Johnson (left) throws to Taylor King as a Hamilton base runner is caught in a run-down. The runner was tagged, but was declared safe due to a blocked base path. – Photo by Judy Robbins

Celebrating The Win – Walt McCullough and Shonquayle Jenkins (left photo) celebrate the win that takes them to the north half championship game. – Photo by Judy Robbins

Reid Bankston
Sports Reporter

    Head coach Doug Robbins and his Water Valley Blue Devils just can’t stop defying the odds.  A crushing victory against Leland in the first round, followed by a gutsy game three road win against Baldwyn, put the Blue Devils to spring another upset against Hamilton, Region 2-2A’s top seed.  

    The Blue Devils and Lions split the season series at one a piece, with both teams winning at home, maximizing the importance of home field advantage for the favored Lions.  However, thanks to timely hitting, and a masterful pitching performance by Shonquayle Jenkins and Josh Johnson in game two, Water Valley once again overcame the odds, clinching a 2-0 series sweep.

Game One

Much like the two regular season meetings between these two division rivals, game one was a game of momentum shifts.  Water Valley jumped out to a 3-0 lead with a two run first inning before tacking on another in the third, but Hamilton came roaring back, scoring five unanswered to take a 5-3 lead into the top of the seventh.  

    However, the Blue Devils battled back once again, tying the game 5-5, sending the series’ opening encounter to extra innings.  After a scoreless eighth inning, Josh Johnson reached base in the ninth after being struck in the knee with a pitch.  Sophomore Walt McCullough caught Hamilton off guard with a squeeze play, scoring Johnson and giving Water Valley a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom half of the inning.  

    After seizing momentum, Robbins’ turned to Johnson on the mound, where the playoff closer slammed the door on Hamilton, giving the Blue Devils their third road win in the 2009 playoffs and a 1-0 series lead.  Johnson improved his overall record to 3-2, while J.D. Fondon and Tank Hervey both had multiple hit games.

Game Two

    Trailing in the series and going on the road, Hamilton turned to the undefeated Chase Reeves to silence the Blue Devil bats in game two.  However, much like Hamilton’s game one starter, Reeves (8-1) couldn’t keep the Blue Devils off the scoreboard in the early innings. Water Valley took a 1-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a two-out Drew Pratt double, while starting pitcher Shonquayle Jenkins scored on a Pratt sacrifice fly in the third.  

    With an early two run lead, Jenkins (6-2) turned in a dominant performance on the mound, securing a 2-0 victory on the night, and a two game series sweep.  Josh Johnson relieved Jenkins in the seventh, picking up his seventh save of the year.      

    Water Valley’s two game sweep kept Hamilton from reaching their third consecutive trip to the MHSAA baseball championship series, while securing the Blue Devils their second trip to the North Half Finals under Coach Doug Robbins.

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