Story and Photos by Brian Tannehill – Director of Photography
WETUMPKA — Stakes were high with the Area 5 Championship on the line. When the dust settled, the Indians stood tall Thursday night in a low-scoring affair, 2-0, sweeping archrival Stanhope Elmore in the two-game series.
Both teams – by virtue of Benjamin Russell being the odd Wildcat out of the area pennant race – clinched postseason berths. The Indians will host a first-round 6A AHSAA State Baseball Tournament game while the Mustangs will start their blue map journey on the road.
But that’s a down-the-road focus.
Thursday’s showdown became a duel between talented sophomores: Lefty Jaxon Shineflew for Wetumpka, versus righty Zach Stevens for Stanhope Elmore.
And Battle they did. Both pitchers held the other team in check through most of the game.
“We knew we would have to battle throughout all 7 innings,” said Shineflew.
“We knew that W-word (Mustangs’ Coach DK Shuman has put a moratorium on the use of the word ‘Wetumpka’) was gonna come out swinging and so we knew that if something was going to happen we were gonna have to get it done early, “ replied Stephens.
Shineflew kept the Mustangs from crossing the plate all night, throwing seven innings with no runs on three hits and striking out three.
“My mindset was to not let a runner get across that plate and to have quick innings, to give my team a chance to produce offensively,” said Shineflew.
Quick innings he did, retiring the Mustangs in order for the first two innings.
Said Shineflew: “I always try to be able to put my fastball wherever I want in the strike zone and on top of that my curveball felt really good.”
“He competed – He really competed, He showed up and he went after them,” Said Indians Coach Michael Dismukes.
Across the diamond, Stevens allowed just two runs on four hits, striking out seven and walking two.
“I feel like I pitched well last night, sometimes you’re gonna have the games where you do everything right and still lose,” said Stevens. “My mindset going into last night’s game was really neutral. I know that they can hit and so I just knew that I was gonna have to go out there and just do what I do.”
Reviewing pitching stats from Thursday, both pitchers matched up really well. Shineflew hurled 85 pitches, 56 for strikes while Stevens fired 82 pitches with 48 strikes.
Stephens threw 11 first-pitch strikes to the 25 batters he faced and Shineflew threw 15 first-pitch strikes to the 23 batters faced.
Yeah, it was a good pitching duel…but what about the offense?
For the Indians, Kyle Morrison who has been on fire the last three weeks, went 1-for-3, with a strikeout, while Ty Brooks, Garritt Terrell, and Davis Wells each garnered a hit. Catcher Garritt Terrell had the game winning hit for the Indians delivering a line drive single to right field that scored both Brooks and Noah Jones.
The Mustangs roped three hits with Chase Eddings going 1-for-3, and Colin Woodham and Chase Williams each producing a hit.
Wetumpka travels to Prattville next week for a mid-week game before preparing for the playoffs on Friday.
“Just keep playing, (it’s) just another game, one game at a time, one pitch at a time, said Dismukes.
Stanhope has two home games next week versus St James and Greenville before preparing for the playoffs.
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