WALKER – Everyone associated with the Walker baseball program is starting to forget about the results of the pre-district schedule.
After winning only five times in the five weeks of the season, the Wildcats fortunes have changed dramatically in the early stages of District 4-5A play.
Walker followed up a league-opening victory against Zachary two days ago by defeating Live Oak 3-1 at Wildcat Field on Saturday.
Gavin Adams and Cody King combined on a four-hitter for Walker (7-15, 2-0 in district), which did not commit an error. The Wildcats scored all three of third runs in the first inning – two coming on a single by freshman Caleb Webb.
“Coming into district play, we were 5-15,” Adams said. “No one thought we were going to win anything. Beating Zachary was a good feeling and the momentum from that game carried over to (Saturday). Our defense played really well, and we scored when we needed to.”
Adams blanked Live Oak (17-7, 1-1) on two hits through the first four innings.
In the first inning, Rhett Rosevear was thrown out trying to steal third base by catcher Spencer Murray. The Eagles stranded a runner in scoring position in the second and fourth innings.
Live Oak finally scored a run in the fifth when Jake Burchfield walked, and Sal Palermo tripled which resulted in Walker's coach Randy Sandifer replacing Adams with King. On the first pitch, the Eagles attempted a squeeze play, but King threw out pinch-runner runner Jake Miller at the plate on Collin Martin’s bunt.
After Rosevear grounded out, Cam Dickerson walked, the Eagles' threat ended with Walker left fielder Grant Edwards made a sliding catch of Brant Smith’s fly ball. King permitted just one base runner during the last two innings.
“The big inning was when we had a man on third base and one out trailing 3-1,” Live Oak coach Jesse Cassard said. “We have a chance to open the game up and we don’t execute a bunt. Then, we don’t get another run out of the inning. That could have turned the game around.
“We must have hit about 10 line drives they caught," Cassard said. "They made five diving catches in the outfield, most by the left fielder. But we didn’t manufacture any runs.”
Walker took advantage of its scoring opportunity in the first inning. Live Oak starting pitcher Jacob Loveland walked Murray and following a sacrifice bunt by Camden Carver, Loveland hit Graham Smith with a pitch.
A throwing error by Loveland on Eli Turnage’s ground ball allowed courtesy runner Owen Forbes to score. Webb then delivered his two-run single just inside the third base bag.
Three Live Oak relief pitchers – Branson McCoy, Ethan Prescott and Kade Dupont – held the Wildcats scoreless after Webb’s first-inning single. Walker had one batter reach base after the first inning – Smith on an infield single in the third.
“These last two games we have pitched well, played good defense and did enough at the plate,” Sandifer said. “In these last two games, some of the balls hit by the other team have had a little more carry to it and we made the play. The ball Webb hit in the first inning could have been right at (third baseman). We didn’t have a whole lot of luck in the first 20 games. We were not as bad as our record. Maybe, our luck is starting to change.”
Kody Guidry had two of Live Oak’s four hits. Adams gave up three hits, walked three and struck out two. King allowed one hit, walked one and struck out one in his three innings.
Walker had three hits – singles by Webb, Armond Daigre and Smith.
“The confidence spilled over from the other night against Zachary,” Sandifer said. “If we do some little things right, we’re not bad.”