State Baseball Playoffs: Walker hammers Mortimer Jordan, Cullman next
by Johnathan Bentley
Apr 27, 2014 | 2342 views | 0 0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walker players rush out of the dugout to meet Logan Nix after he recorded the final out against Mortimer Jordan during Game 3 of their second-round playoff series on Saturday. The Vikings won the game 14-4. Photo by Johnathan Bentley
Walker players rush out of the dugout to meet Logan Nix after he recorded the final out against Mortimer Jordan during Game 3 of their second-round playoff series on Saturday. The Vikings won the game 14-4. Photo by Johnathan Bentley
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KIMBERLY — The final out recorded, Walker players celebrated on the field after finishing off Mortimer Jordan in Game 3 of their second-round playoff series on Saturday.

With the victory just seconds old, the buzz in the stands turned to the Vikings' next opponent — Cullman.

Walker will host the rival Bearcats in a best-of-three, third-round playoff series on Friday. The first game will start at 5 p.m. at Valley Park.

Next week's series will be the first meeting between the schools since a brawl between coaches marred the end of their football matchup last August. Due to the incident the schools agreed to suspend the rivalry in all sports.

There was one exception — the state playoffs.

Walker last met Cullman on the diamond in the 2011 regular season, splitting a pair of games. The Vikings ousted the Bearcats in the second round of the state playoffs in 2010 in their last postseason meeting.

"Now we get to toe it up with Cullman. We have a lot of respect for them. They are one of the best programs in the state of Alabama," Walker baseball coach Pat Ware said. "We're just happy to have them come to our place on Friday. They don't go through rebuilding years. They just reload every year."

The Vikings advanced to the third round with a 14-4 victory over Mortimer Jordan. The game was close through five innings, but Walker took advantage of two key Blue Devil errors to score eight runs over the final two innings.

Walker made Mortimer Jordan pay for every mistake, scoring three unearned runs in the fifth and four unearned runs in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach.

Mortimer Jordan struck first, scoring without the benefit of a hit in the opening inning.

The Vikings (23-19) took the lead for good with a three-run third. John Michael Reed tied the game with an RBI double and Brooks Wade added a two-run double for the 3-1 lead.

Mortimer Jordan cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third.

Walker added to its lead in the fifth, scoring three runs on an RBI single by Wade and a two-run single by Taylor Whitley for a 6-2 advantage.

Leading 6-4 in the top of the sixth, Walker got a rally started when Reed reached base on a two-out error. That turned out to be the big break Walker needed.

After Wade and Stephenson drew walks to load the bases, Bailey Tidwell hit a blooper to left center field that scored two runs. Hicks followed that up with a bloop hit to center field. Two Mortimer Jordan players collided on the play and were unable to come up with the catch, allowing two more Walker runs to cross the plate for a 10-4 lead.

Mortimer Jordan made yet another miscue, it's sixth error of the game, to start the seventh inning. Walker added four more runs with Stephenson and Tidwell delivering RBI hits.

Bryant Atkins got the win on the mound. He went the first 41/3 innings, giving up four runs — no earned runs — on six hits and three walks. He struck out three.

Logan Nix slammed the door, throwing 2 2/3 scoreless innings.

Offensively, Walker's first four batters combined to score 10 runs.

Reed was 2 for 4 with four runs and an RBI, Wade was 1 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs, Stephenson was 2 for 4 with two runs, Tidwell was 3 for 5 with two runs and two RBIs, Nick Hicks was 3 for 5 with two RBIs and Taylor Whitley was 2 for 5 with two runs.

"I can't be any more proud of our guys. We get to play another week," Ware said.

"We told the guys that we would face some adversity and that it's how you handle that adversity and overcome it that matters. Bryant struggled a little bit, but he got the outs he needed. Logan did what he's done the last couple of games. He went out and closed the door for us."

Cullman has rolled through the first two rounds of the postseason. The Bearcats outscored Hartselle 20-5 in their second-round series.

"I'm proud of our fans showing up and supporting the kids," Ware said. "We are going to need all the support we can get at home (next week)."