Notes from MDJ:
WALTON 12-7, HILLGROVE 1-4
Walton rolls through Hillgrove
By Adam Carrington
MARIETTA — Walton was the better team in every facet of the game Wednesday.
The Raiders manufactured runs without getting an overwhelming amount of hits. They also went errorfree defensively and got the clutch outs when they needed them most in sweeping Hillgrove in the second round of the Class AAAAAA state tournament Wednesday night at Raider Mountain.
Walton managed to beat the Hawks 12-1 in five innings in the first game with just eight hits. In Game 2, the Raiders held off a late rally to seal a 7-4 victory. Walton will host Mountain View in the state quarterfinals. “I think we’re playing well right now,” Walton coach Shane Amos said. “We’re hitting the ball. I think we’re pitching and I think we’re playing great defense. We’re where we want to be.”
Of the 12 Walton runs scored in the opening contest, six of them came in the fifth inning, capped by a walk-off, two-run double by pinch hitter Chris Hummel. Five of Walton’s runs in the first game didn’t require a clutch hit. They scored twice on bases loaded walks, one run came on a hit batsman, another came on a bases-loaded double play in the first and Jason Rooks came home on a sacrifice fly by Luke Manzo.
Spencer Kieboom hit a tworun home run in the third inning to break the game open. Tyler Heinrichs followed with a solo to give the Raiders a 6-0 lead. Rooks delivered an RBI hit in the first inning and Michael Gulberg had an RBI single in the first. “That’s what it’s all about at this level,” Amos said, “taking advantage when people make mistakes.”
It was pitching that hurt Hillgrove in the first game. Three pitchers took the mound for Hillgrove in Game 1 and gave up a combined seven walks, two wild pitches and a hit batsman that resulted in a Walton run. Meanwhile, Walton starting pitcher Zac Kristofak was in neartop form. He had just two strikeouts in the game and three walks, but limited the Hawks to just one run on two hits. Hillgrove’s only run of the first game came on a Chandler Hilton RBI hit in the fourth.
In the nightcap, Walton took a 5-1 lead in the top of the fourth by scoring three runs behind RBI hits from Chandler Miller, Parker McCoy and Guldberg, making Hillgrove’s chances of extending the series very low.
But the Hawks never quit. After getting two quick outs in the fifth, Channing Painton and Steven Minter got back-to-back hits to cut into Walton’s lead and the Hawks had the tying run at the plate with two outs. They had their leading hitter at the plate in John Devine, who crushed a ball to left field, but Walton’s Chandler Miller ran it down, robbing him of a double.
“Walton is an outstanding defensive team,” Hillgrove coach David Richardson said. “They have great speed and great arms in the outfield. When we found an opportunity, they found a way to kill that opportunity.” Walton added two more insurance runs on a two-run double by Guldberg in the sixth to get some separation.
For Hillgrove, Jacob Farmer, Steven Minter, Chareef Allen and Devin Bilardello had RBI hits in the second game.