BLOG — Water Valley overcame a pitcher committed to play at Mississippi State, a home crowd intent on seeing them lose and some wild spring weather to win its MHSAA Class 3A baseball playoff opener Friday night.The Blue Devils took Game 1 of their best-of-three series with the Belmont Cardinals 1-0 thanks in large part to the pitching of Skyler Defer and Cody Greer. Defer started for the Blue Devils and earned the win, while Greer came on to earn the save after the game was stopped in the bottom of the seventh inning for 35 minutes due to lightning in the area. Greer actually pitched to one batter in the bottom of the sixth, recording a strikeout, before throwing seven pitches in the seventh and being stopped by umpires with a 3-2 count against Belmont’ Kirk Stidham. Greer said his arm felt fine despite the break in action.
“I had a lot of confidence coming in because Skyler did such a good job on the mound, the team was playing defense behind me, the delay … I just knew I had to come in and throw strikes,” said Greer, who struck out two in his 1.1 innings of work. “I never had a delay like that, I just out there and got warm and did what I’m supposed to do. My fastball was working for me, I was hitting my spots well.”
Defer had a no-hitter going through 4.1 innings of work. After walking Luke Alexander to start the game, he retired 13 of the next 14 batters he faced. He finished with six strikeouts against two walks and two hits in 5.2 innings.
“I was really focused on throwing my curveball for a strike. I got ahead in the count and they were swinging early and (shortstop) Cole (Camp) and the outfield were catching everything,” Defer said. “I walked the first batter on 3-2 and I knew I had come back and hit my strike zone. We faced their No. 1 and beat him so that gives us a lot of confidence coming in (Saturday) knowing that we’re throwing Cody. We know we can win any game when he’s pitching on the mound.”
WVHS coach Kary Bridges was very pleased with how his team played in the opener and for them not making the lightning delay bother them in a negative manner.
“We pitched great as we have all year. There have been one or two games where we haven’t thrown well but for the most part our pitchers have done a good job,” Bridges said. “We throw strikes and play pretty good defense. That’s what we’re built upon. We practice to play some low scoring games and ways to win those games and our guys did a good job of that tonight.”
Friday night’s game didn’t lack for drama on the field either. Outside of the weather delay, the Blue Devils actually won the contest when Stidham was caught stealing third base. WVHS catcher Taylor Smith threw to third baseman Dillon Zinn way before Stidham was able to slide into the bag.
The lone run of the contest was scored in the second inning when Dalvin Caldwell drove in Taylor Smith with a single through the right side of the Belmont infield. It appeared WVHS took a 2-0 lead on Belmont and Alexander, the complete-game loser on the mound for the Cardinals, in the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Defer. Austin Smith, who was on third, was ruled not to have tagged up by the home plate umpire and ruled out.
Game 2 of the series is scheduled to begin at 2 today in Water Valley. A third game, if necessary, would begin 20 minutes after its conclusion. (April 27, 2013)