Curvin threw a six-hitter Saturday to beat Jacksonville 9-2 and lift Alexandria into the Class 4A quarterfinals. The victory clinched the best-of-three second-round series, one day after Wells and Whitley pitched Alexandria to a win in Game 2, avoiding elimination.
The Valley Cubs (25-11) will play against the winner of Ardmore (20-7) and Madison County (20-11) next weekend. The site has not been announced.
“We just happened to play better today,” Alexandria coach Andy Shaw said. “We had a few miscues early, but Ethan just kept us in the game and pitched a great game.”
Jacksonville (22-11) managed one hit each against Curvin from Shed Long, Jackson Bell and Tanner Sims. The Golden Eagles picked up an unearned run and added another in the second.
“I knew if I stopped it right there, and we’d hit then we’d be fine,” Curvin said. “I knew I had to come out and not walk anybody. I knew they were going to hit, but I just wanted to throw strikes. That’s what I had to do the whole game.”
While Curvin didn’t issue a walk during the game, it didn’t take the Valley Cubs long to respond offensively.
Alexandria scored five runs in the bottom of the second with hits from Justice Owens and Logan Doss. Jacksonville didn’t help itself, committing two errors that allowed the five runs to score before there were two outs in the inning.
“Payton (Sims) is a good pitcher, and I was a little worried about that, but we hit the ball the opposite way and got some runs off of him,” Shaw said. “Our guys just battle all the time. We aren’t a very pretty team, but these kids have great character and are never down.”
The offensive attacked continued in the third inning with Alexandria adding three more runs on four straight hits. Alexandria batted nine in the inning.
“When we lost pretty much every game to Jacksonville, we’ve been behind,” Doss said. “To really get ahead of them in the second and third inning it helps to put the pressure on them and not have the pressure on us the whole game.”
That was all the run support Curvin needed. He shut down Jacksonville after the second inning, never facing more than four batters in an inning and never allowing more than one base runner on at a time. Chance Marbut, who scored in the second, was the last Golden Eagles runner to touch third or home.
“I threw strikes, but my fastball and curveball worked,” Curvin said. “They hit me every now and then, but overall throwing strikes really helped me out.”
One positive for Jacksonville was the pitching Sid Thurmond, who slowed down Alexandria’s offensive attack from the fourth inning on, but the Valley Cubs lead was too large for Jacksonville to overcome. Thurmond only allowed one hit and one unearned run over four innings.
“They were good today,” Jacksonville coach David Deerman said. “They hit the ball well, played good defense and made some plays in the field. But I’m proud of our kids for the season we had.”
Alexandria has been to at least the state quarterfinals the last four years, including making the state finals in 2010.
But that’s history for Shaw.
“We’re 0-0 again, and that’s what I told the guys,” Shaw said. “We’ll just have to go out and play well.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.