By Reid Bankston
With playoffs looming, the Water Valley Blue Devils (9-7 overall, 3-2 division) are still working to find consistency, and find themselves in the midst of a battle for a playoff berth. The Blue Devils have won two out of their last four games, including a division loss at home against Winona and at Lafayette.
The Blue Devils surrendered more ground in the division race to Winona after dropping another outing to the Tigers (11-4, 5-0). Winona raced out to an early four run lead after driving in one run in the top of the first, before getting three more in top of the third. However, Water Valley responded with an eight run bottom of the third, giving the Blue Devils an 8-4 lead.
Winona would begin chipping away at the Blue Devil lead with one run in the fifth and a six run sixth inning. Winona added another run in the top of the seventh to put the game away.
On the mound, Walt Mc-Cullough took the loss for the Blue Devils, giving up eight earned runs on eight hits, including a homerun and a double. McCullough struck out three while walking four in 5.1 innings of work. The loss drops McCullough to 2-3 on the year.
At the plate, Water Valley was led again by Taylor King with two hits, including a homerun, and three RBIs. Drew Pratt also added a homerun and 3 RBIs, but King was the only Blue Devil with a multi-hit game.
Water Valley bounced back from their home loss to Winona to secure an important 18-0 away win at division foe Aberdeen.
The Blue Devils pounded out 11 hits and four doubles in the four inning game, while Chris Wilson threw a one hitter, striking out eight Aberdeen batters. The win was Wilson’s first of the year, bringing his record to 1-1.
At the plate, King and John Michael Grimmett both enjoyed two hit games, while nine different Blue Devils recorded a hit. Chris Conard and Taylor Kimzey drove in a team high two RBIs a piece.
Water Valley followed up their route of the Bulldogs with perhaps their best win of the year at Oxford (9-7, 2-2). The Blue Devils recorded 14 hits and two homeruns at the plate, while Pratt struck out five Chargers on the way to a 14-6 win.
Oxford opened up an early 3-0 lead with a one run first and a two run second, but it was Water Valley who eventually gained the upper hand at the plate, recording a three run top of the third and five runs a piece in the fifth and seventh innings. Oxford could only muster three runs after the second inning, as the Blue Devils dominated their local rivals.
Five Blue Devils recorded multi-hit games, while King and McCullough added a homerun a piece in the rivalry win. With the win on the mound, Pratt runs his season record to 3-1 with a 1.44 earned run average.
After dispatching local rivals Ox-ford, the Blue Devils took on another set of neighbors in the form of the Lafayette Commodores (13-3, 4-0).
The Commodores opened a commanding lead in the bottom of the second, putting eight runs on the board. Water Valley answered in the top half of the third with four runs of their own before Lafayette answered with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
The Blue Devils posed little threat from that point on, only adding a run in the top of the fifth before Lafayette added three in the bottom half of the frame to end the game at 15-5.
Water Valley again struggled in the field, committing four errors, giving up 15 runs on just 10 hits. King took the loss on the mound for the Blue Devils, walking five Commodore batters, and giving up eight earned runs on just three hits in 2.1 innings of work. King’s record now stands at 2-2 with a 5.94 ERA.
At the plate, Water Valley continued their current hot streak, recording 10 hits, including two apiece from McCullough, Grimmett, and King. McCullough added a homerun of his own, while King led the team with two RBIs on the day. Water Valley is currently hitting .348 as a team with 17 homeruns and 29 doubles on the year.
Water Valley will look to carry their hot bats into key division matchups against South Pontotoc and Mooreville over the next week, as the Blue Devils look to get back into contention for another division crown. The Blue Devils currently sit third in the division, behind Mooreville and Winona, who are both currently undefeated in division play.
The Troopers of Moore-ville are owners of a six game winning streak, and will square off with Water Valley twice over the last seven games of the season.