SPORTS BLOG: WATER VALLEY — Water Valley Blue Devils baseball coach Kary Bridges didn’t make any excuses for his team’s 12-8 loss to Mooreville in the opening game of a best-of-three series in the third round of the MHSAA Class 3A playoffs Friday night at Blue Devil Field.
“You’ve got to tip your cap to them,” Bridges said. “They did just about everything a little better than us tonight and that’s why they won.
“They beat us and there is no way around it. We had some opportunities with our guys up and they got them out. Baseball, and in high school baseball in general, you always dwell on what you did to lose a game and, look, they beat us. Their pitcher made pitches when he needed to make them and we didn’t from time to time.”
After falling behind 4-2 in the third inning off a J.D. Fondon two-run home run, the Troopers pieced together a seven-run fifth inning to reclaim the lead and never relinquish it. The Troopers sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning and collected nine hits, including a three-run double by Austin Knox.
“We just couldn’t get out of that inning,” Bridges said. “They hit some balls hard, you’ve got to credit them. That’s generally what we do to people, but they did it to us tonight.”
Although the Blue Devils (18-10 overall) scored eight runs, there were still opportunities to score more. Water Valley totaled 10 hits on the night, but left six runners on base, and in the second, fifth and sixth innings runners on in scoring position. Bridges credited Troopers’ pitcher Drew Wheeler for making good pitches to get out of those innings.
“He did a good job of making pitches and keeping the ball down,” Bridges said. “They did a good job at positioning, we hit some balls hard at people, but that’s baseball. He did a good job. He didn’t walk many people and that’s the big thing. He didn’t put many guys on base and when we did get hits he made us earn it.”
The series now goes to Mooreville for Game 2, which is set for 7 on Saturday night.
“It’s a three-game series, luckily, it’s not one and done so we still have a chance to go out there and make up for it tomorrow and hopefully get it to a third game,” Bridges said.
Chris Conard, Walt McCullough and Fondon, who collected three RBIs in the contest, all finished with multiple hits. Cole Camp drove in two runs with a single in the second inning and Taylor King picked up an RBI with a single in the fifth.
Drew Pratt was saddled with the loss for the Blue Devils. In 4.1 innings of work he gave up eight runs on 12 hits, while striking out three and walking two. (May 6, 2011)