E.A. Sports Today

Tough way to end

Pleasant Valley falls in Game 3 of playoff series, losing a 12-0 ‘train wreck’ to visiting Elkmont

Elkmont’s Ryan Boyd slides in ahead of the tag of Pleasant Valley catcher Drew Bonds Saturday. Boyd was the second of two runners who scored on a fourth-inning wild pitch. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Chris Youngman tries to prepare his team for the tough times as well as the good ones.

When the inevitable tough times come, the aim is to minimize the damage. There was no tougher time for the Pleasant Valley baseball team than the second inning of Saturday’s 12-0 loss to Elkmont. When it came, the wheels didn’t just come off, this train jumped the tracks.

The win sent the Red Devils (20-19) into the third round of the Class 3A playoffs and ended the Raiders’ season. Elkmont now plays Colbert Heights (17-7) in the state quarterfinals. The survivor gets the Piedmont-Lauderdale County winner.

Everything that seemingly could have gone wrong for the Raiders (10-20) in the inning did. They made five of their nine errors in the inning that led to seven unearned runs and with each close call that didn’t go their way frustrations grew. Those finally reached a breaking point with an ejection for aggressive base running in the third inning.

“We talk about controlling the train wreck,” Youngman said. “Train wrecks are going to happen. On the field you’re going to make a mistake, that’s life, that’s part of the way life is, every day you’re going to make a mistake. How you act after those mistakes shows your character and determines what kind of man you are.

“Today, it was a really bad train wreck, it’s just one thing after the other. It’s like we couldn’t stop the bleeding. We just picked a really bad time to have one of those innings and just never recovered from it.”

There were no indications things would go sideways, even with the tension in the split the night before and the pressure of a winner-take-all Game 3. The big inning started with a ball that bounced off the shortstop’s chest and a walk, then starting pitcher Brody Phillips played a sacrifice bunt to third and threw the ball into the outfield sending home the first run of the game. From there, it just snowballed.

A hit batsman brought a run home. Cleanup hitter Jackson Cook cleared loaded bases with a single to right and a relay that got away. Another run scored on a bad throw in a rundown and the final run of the inning scored when an outfielder overran a single. They got another run the next inning when Hunter Pittman stole home and was ruled to have been interfered with in a rundown trying to retreat.

Meanwhile, the PV hitters couldn’t reach Elkmont pitcher Braden Miller. The Raiders managed a first-inning single by Alex Parris and doubles by Parris and Drew Bonds.

“We just got overeager at the plate,” Youngman said. “Instead of making it a beach ball we made it a golf ball and it’s a lot harder to hit and the more pressure you put on yourself, you see the runs go up on the scoreboard, that golf ball goes to a marble and it gets harder to hit. It’s the mental aspect of the game, in which we didn’t perform today.”

Phillips, a ninth-grader, kept it on rails in the first inning when it could’ve easily gotten away there. He walked the first three batters he faced against a tight strike zone, but got out of it without allowing a run. He struck out Cook, got a force play at home thanks to quick reflexes by first baseman Nick Charping and got a strikeout for the last out. He retired the last two batters after falling behind 3-0 in the count.

“The strike zone was … very hard to find,” Phillips said. “Getting out of it kind of boosted my confidence a little. We kind of thought it would boost up the team a little more, but we just didn’t do what we needed to do for the rest of the game.”

Elkmont 12, Pleasant Valley 0
Elkmont 071 31 — 12 5 1
Pleasant Valley 000 00 — 0 3 9

(Elkmont wins series 2-1)
WP: Braden Miller. LP: Brody Phillips. 2B: Dalton Payne (PV), Drew Bonds (PV). Hitting – Elkmont: Hunter Pittman 0-2, 2 runs; Bryce Tyler 0-1, run; Brady Garris 0-2, run, RBI; Jackson Cook 1-4, run, 2 RBIs; Patrick Jobman 1-4, run; Brian Rios 2-4, 2 runs, RBI; Jonathan Craig 1-3, run; Jaevan Jackson 0-2, run; Ryan Boyd 0-3, 2 runs. Pleasant Valley: Dakota Jones 0-3; Alex Parris 1-1; Dalton Payne 1-1; Caden Turner 0-3; Nick Charping 0-1; Triston Salster 0-2; Nick Howard 0-2; Drew Bonds 1-2; Ashton King 0-1; Caden McCurdy 0-2. Pitching (IP-H-R-ER-BB-K) – Elkmont: Braden Miller 5-3-0-0-2-0; Pleasant Valley: Brody Phillips 2-2-7-0-5-2, Nick Charping 3-3-5-1-2.

Pleasant Valley first baseman Nick Charping appears to tag Elkmont’s Hunter Pittman on their way back to the bag, but Pittman somehow eluded being out. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photo)

To see more B.J. Franklin photos from the Pleasant Valley-Elkmont series, go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

Pleasant Valley’s Alex Parris collides with Elkmont third baseman Brian Rios in the third inning Saturday. Parris was ejected for the collision. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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