By Mark Anthony
The Water Valley Blue Devil baseball team (6-3) has been busy during the last week, competing in four games in the Oxford High School Spring Break Tournament.
The action started last Tuesday, March 15, in a rematch against the New Albany team coached by former Water Valley assistant John Walker.
The Blue Devils got off to a slow start and their pitching staff struggled during the entire game. In the first inning, only one Blue Devil reached the base – with a walk – and the rest were retired by good defensive play from New Albany.
The first batter up for New Albany in the bottom of the first reached on a single, and the next batter was hit by a wild pitch. Both runners were able to steal bases after a wild pitch by Taylor King. New Albany’s next batter hit into a ground out that scored one run and on the next pitch a passed ball at the plate allowed another runner to score.
King finally got out of the inning with a strike out and ground out, giving the New Albany team a two point lead.
Water Valley went down swinging in the second inning with a strike out, fly out and ground out. Great Blue Devil defense held New Albany in the bottom of the second inning.
New Albany’s pitching staff gave up two walks, and advanced another batter after a wild pitch. With the bases loaded, the Blue Devils could not capitalize on the opportunity.
New Albany scored their next run in the third inning from a trio of hits. The fourth inning saw great defense from both sides again, each team posting no hits and no runs.
Dominant pitching in the sixth inning gave up very little to the Blue Devils, however New Albany connected with a number of hitters, scoring two more runs.
Water Valley managed to score two runs in the seventh inning, but New Albany earned the win, 5 -2.
The action continued Wednesday, March 16, as the Blue Devils faced Marshall Academy, who took a 1- 0 lead in the first inning.
The Blue Devils responded, when Adam Langham scored off a RBI from Cole Camp. Smart base running advanced senior first baseman John Michael Grimmett for the second run in inning two.
Pitching was strong for the Blue Devils in the third, with Drew Pratt giving up the only hit. J.D. Fondon led things off for the Blue Devils with a solo homerun. King, Langham and Grimmett all had base-hit singles and Austin Hodge picked up a walk, scoring another run for Water Valley.
Camp and Chris Conard again produced base hits, scoring another run. However Conard was caught stealing at second, and Pratt went down on a ground-out to end the productive inning for the Blue Devils.
It was three-up, three-down for both sides in the fourth inning. A fifth inning pitching change saw Hodge give up a run, but again great defensive play got Water Valley out of the side.
Langham scored in the sixth for the Blue Devils on a single from Hodge, but Camp hit into a double play to end it for the Devils.
Pitcher Walt McCullough came in for the Devils, giving up only one run.
Marshall Academy launched a comeback in the final inning, scoring another two runs but fell short , 6-5.
On Thursday, March 17, the Blue Devils lost back-to-back games against the Center Hill Mustangs of DeSoto County.
In the first inning, Conard grounded out and Drew Pratt and McCullough struck out. The Mustangs scored three runs from several passed balls at the plate, but a visit to the mound by Coach Cary Bridges got things back on track.
In the next inning, J.D. Fondon led off with a deep fly out, but King hit a stand-up double. Langham also got to first base after the umpire called catcher interference. King and Langham were stranded after Grim-mett struck out and Cole Camp grounded out.
The Mustangs jumped right back, scoring three more runs before a pitching change that brought Langham to the mound.
Langham recorded a strike out with no hits or walks in the inning.
The momentum carried into the next inning with the Blue Devils finally putting some runs on the board. The first score came after King was walked with the bases loaded, scoring Pratt from third base. Grimmett’s next plate appearance scored two runs on a two-RBI single
Another pitching change in the bottom of the inning saw Camp struggle, giving up eight runs. Camp led offensive action in the next inning, hitting a solid double, and crossing the plate after Conard connected with a double to right field.
The Blue Devils scored another run, but the game was called in the next inning with a 15-5 loss for the Water Valley team.
They played the second half of the double-header later that day, losing by a close score of 11 – 10.
At press-time Tuesday, the Blue Devils were hosting Nettleton.