E.A. Sports Today

Alexandria rallies to win series

Valley Cubs gain a spot in 5A semifinals with three-run rally in sixth inning

Alexandria's Austin Wells (L) rushes towards Cody Dodd after the Cubs recorded the final out in their series clinching 9-6 victory over Pleasant Grove Saturday.

Alexandria’s Austin Wells (L) rushes towards Cody Dodd after the Cubs recorded the final out in their series clinching 9-6 victory over Pleasant Grove Saturday.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

PLEASANT GROVE — Andy Shaw had a simple two-word message for Chase Heindl when he brought the bullpen catcher off the bench to pinch hit in the bottom of the sixth inning Saturday.

Be ready.

He certainly was, ripping a leadoff double to start a three-run rally that lifted Alexandria to a 9-6 win over Pleasant Grove in the deciding third game of their Class 5A playoff series.

The Valley Cubs (33-5) will host Russellville (31-6) in a best-of-3 semifinal Friday.

Heindl has had fewer than a dozen plate appearances this senior season, but he has been consistent in making something happen when called upon.

He batted for Riley Shaw in the sixth and crushed a pitch from behind in the count into left field that might have gone out in some places. Winning pitcher Will Reaves called it “the biggest hit of our playoffs” this year.

“Their guy (Spartans pitcher Matt White) had been giving our left-handlers fits, so I told Heindl he’s been having trouble with his breaking stuff, just be ready to hit fastball and he did it,” Shaw said. “Everybody has a role on this team. We just tell them to be ready and, boy, he was ready.”

Heindl doesn’t have the arm strength of the two other regular catchers, but earns his keep by warming up the Cubs’ pitching staff and gets the random opportunity to pinch hit. It’s a role he doesn’t take lightly.

“When I get called to do my job — I guess that’s my job — I try to do the best when I can,” he said. “It doesn’t matter my stats; it matters what’s going on right now.”

Shaw was reinserted as a runner after Heindl’s “awesome-feeling” double. Dalton Warren followed by dropping a bunt and beating it out and Dalton Cobb was intentionally walked to load the bases. It was Cobb’s fourth walk of the game.

Will Reaves drove home the go-ahead run with his second sacrifice fly of the game, Warren scored on a passed ball and Dakota Kelley singled home the third run.

Reaves was the winning pitcher, settling in after relieving Taylor Shaddix, and nearly unhittable Justin Whitley got the final out.

Reaves entered in the third after four straight Spartans reached base with one out. He gave up two RBI singles to complete starter Taylor Shaddix’ book and a run-scoring single the next inning, but was particularly clutch striking out designated hitter Seth Grammer with two runners in scoring position in the top of the sixth.

“It was rough trying to bring the team back, but we went after it one pitch at a time,” Reaves said.

The other key for the Cubs is their answered every time the Spartans scored.

Pleasant Grove (31-17) scored one in the first, the Cubs answered. The Spartans got four in the third, the Cubs pushed across two to keep in touch.

The Spartans extended their lead to 6-3 in the fourth, but the Cubs got three in the home half to tie the game. Whitley drew a bases-loaded walk and two scored on Reaves’ first sacrifice fly combined with the Spartans throwing the ball around the infield.

“You just want to win, you don’t care how it is,” Shaw said. “We just want to win somehow. As you look up on the scoreboard, every time they scored we answered.

“They wanted to get things going over there; they’re a real emotional team. We kept answering them. That says a lot about the character of our kids.”

On the cover: Alexandria catcher Derrik Turner lifts pitcher Justin Whitley after the Cubs got the final out in their 9-6 win over Pleasant Grove. (Photo by Nancy Shaw)

Alexandria 9, Pleasant Grove 6

Pleasant Grove 104 100 0 — 6 8 2
Alexandria 102 303 x — 9 7 1

Jacob Bisharat, MATT WHITE (4) and Caleb Webb, Jacob Bisharat (4); Taylor Shaddix, WILL REAVES (3), Justin Whitley (7) and Derrik Turner. 2B: Jordan Smith (PG), Matt White (PG), Daquan Johnson (PG), Derrik Turner (A), Chase Heindl (A). WP:

You must be logged in to post a comment Login