E.A. Sports Today

Raiders split

Raiders win opener, nearly come back to take the nightcap, but will return Saturday to play for the series

Alex Parris (35) is greeted at the plate by his Pleasant Valley teammates after crushing his first career home run to give the Raiders an early 2-0 lead in Game 1 of their playoff doubleheader Friday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — If there’s one thing that can be said for the Pleasant Valley baseball team in this crunch time part of the season — and coach Chris Youngman said as much — the Raiders don’t do things the easy way.

Pleasant Valley split its second-round Class 3A playoff doubleheader with Elkmont Friday, forcing a winner-take-all Game 3 Saturday here at 2 p.m. The Raiders won the first game 6-4 and dropped a tense nightcap 5-3.

It will be the third important series in a row the Raiders (10-19) have been forced to win a Game 3 to stay alive.

They lost Game 1 of their area series against Glencoe and needed to win the next two to secure a playoff berth. Then they lost the opener at Geraldine last week and won the next two to earn their first second-round home playoff series since 2008.

The routine changed slightly Friday when they won the series opener, but they will still have to get Game 3 Saturday in order to face the winner of the Plainview-Colbert Heights series in Round 3.

“We don’t like doing things the easy way, I don’t guess,” Youngman said.

Luckily, every Game 3 they’ve faced down the stretch they have been the home team. They won the toss after the doubleheader Friday night and will be home team Saturday.

“We’re keeping all these coins,” Youngman said. “We may have a couple dollars by the time we get to the state championship.”

Alex Parris christened Pleasant Valley’s new scoreboard with his first homer since the fifth grade, Jackson Almaroad was strong in relief and the Raiders broke a tie game with two runs in the sixth to win the opener.

They loaded by bases on two singles and an error. Drew Bonds lifted a sacrifice fly to center to bring home the go-ahead run and nine-hole hitter Ashton King singled home an insurance run.

Caden McCurdy pitched the seventh as a prelude to starting Game 2 and closed it out. He got a big defensive assist from third baseman Caden Turner who made a nice stop by the bag to save at least a leadoff double and kept his wits to get the out.

“We tell our guys if you have hope, believe in yourself and keep fighting, they can’t beat you,” Youngman said. “Our guys had hope the whole time, they believed in what they were doing and they fought the whole time. When those three elements are in play we’re a very dangerous baseball team and we proved that in the first game.”

The Raiders fell behind in the nightcap 5-0, but climbed back in the game with three in the sixth and had the tying run at second base with two outs in the seventh.

“We just ran out of time,” Youngman said. “When you dig yourself a hole that’s going to happen from time to time. But we fought and I told our guys as long as you keep fighting I can be proud of that.”

Parris, a tenth-grader, hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Raiders a 2-0 lead in the opener. He said when he hit it he thought it was a pop-up, but the ball continued to carry.

The game went back and forth until Elkmont took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fourth.

The Raiders tied it in the bottom line of the inning when courtesy runner Jaylin Brown scored from second on an infield throw that got away from first.

The scored their go-ahead runs from the bottom of the lineup in the sixth. They loaded the bases with no outs, Brody Phillips drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly and 9-hole hitter Ashton King brought home an insurance run with a sharp single.

Freshman Phillips is expected to start on the mound for PV today, with Nick Charping available behind him. Almaroad gave the Raiders solid relief in both games, but the eighth-grader won’t be available for the deciding game.

Phillips got the ball in Game 3 against Geraldine and got control of the game. He worked into the sixth, giving up four hits and striking out five.

“I’m just going to go out there and give it everything I’ve got no matter what,” Phillips said. “I know what I can do, my abilities, so I’m just going to go give it everything and we’ll see what we can do.”

Game One
Pleasant Valley 6, Elkmont 4
Elkmont 012 100 0 — 4 4 4
Pleasant Valley 201 102 x — 6 7 1

WP: Jackson Almaroad. LP: Brett Parker. HR: Alex Parris. Hitting – Elkmont: Hunter Pitman 0-2; Bryce Tyler 1-4, RBI; Brady Garris 0-3; Jackson Cook 2-3, 2 runs; Patrick Jobman 0-2; Brian Rios 0-1, RBI; Jonathan Craig 0-2, RBI; Braden Miller 0-2; Clay Hunt 0-1; Ryan Boyd 1-3, run. PV: Dakota Jones 1-4, run; Alex Parris 2-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Caden Turner 1-2; Nick Charping 0-3; Nick Howard 1-3; Triston Salster 1-2, run; Drew Bonds 0-4; Brody Phillips 0-2, RBI; Ashton King 1-1, RBI; Jaylin Brown 0-0, run; Nick Smith 0-0, run.

Game Two
Elkmont 5, Pleasant Valley 3
Pleasant Valley 000 003 0 — 3 7 4
Elkmont 200 030 x — 5 4 2

WP: Jackson Cook. LP: Caden McCurdy. Hitting – PV: Dakota Jones 1-4, run; Alex Parris 0-3; Caden Tucner 1-2; Nick Charping 1-3, run, 2 RBIs; Nick Howard 1-3; Triston Salster 0-3; Brody Phillips 1-3; Drew Bonds 1-3; Ashton King 1-3, run. Elkmont: Hunter Pitman 0-3; Bryce Tyler 1-2, 2 runs, RBI; Brady Garris 1-3, run; Jackson Cook 0-2; Patrick Jobman 1-3, RBI; Brian Rios 0-2; Jonathan Craig 1-3; Jaevan Jackson 0-1; Ryan Boyd 0-1, run.

Nick Smith (14) slides into the plate with the go-ahead run in Pleasant Valley’s 6-4 win. When he’s not scoring runs, Smith is the caretaker of the Raiders’ good-luck mascot, Moose the Minion (below).

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