WALKER — The Walker High School baseball team finally got the break it was looking for in a nondistrict matchup with Archbishop Shaw on Monday night.
The Wildcats easily took down the Eagles 8-4 in a makeup game from a rainout earlier in the season thanks to a six-run second inning in which three runners scored after walks and another scored on a wild pitch.
Walker (13-13) only registered one hit in the inning, but Shaw’s (13-9) starting pitcher, Zach Autin (4-1), struggled to hit the strike zone, giving the Wildcats all the momentum they needed to take the victory.
The lone hit of the second inning for Walker came off the bat of right fielder Kyle Nevels, who hit an RBI double to center field to score left fielder Tristian Jeansonne. Nevels led the Wildcats offensively with a pair of doubles and one RBI.
Despite the rough outing, Shaw coach Kirk Bullinger opted to let Autin finish the inning, and the Eagles pitcher regained his composure to close the inning with his fifth strikeout of the night.
Autin allowed six runs on two hits. He struck out five, walked two, hit two batters and threw two wild pitches in two innings.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had an inning like that where somebody struggled against us,” Walker coach Randy Sandifer said. “We’ve had to do everything the hard way this year. Nothing has been easy for us.”
Walker scored two more times in the fifth inning, including a run which scored on a wild pitch to Jeansonne. The Eagles’ pitching staff had three wild pitches total.
Sandifer said he was pleased with the big picture aspect of earning the convincing win, but the Wildcats’ 11 strikeouts were an issue for a team that has struggled to maintain consistency this year.
“We swing and miss a lot,” Sandifer said. “It’s not surprising. We’ve got some work to do at the plate, but we’re getting better at the plate.
“I’m not so much worried about the strikeouts as I am with the strikeouts coming with runners on second and third. We need to be able to put the ball in play there.”
The Wildcats left seven runners on base Monday night.
Defensively, Sandifer said before the game that starting pitcher Dane Dixon wouldn’t throw for more than three innings in order to get the bullpen some work in the nondistrict matchup, but the Walker coach chose to keep Dixon on the mound after a strong start to the game.
Dixon, a distant cousin of Shaw coach Kirk Bullinger, failed to record any strikeouts against the Eagles but only allowed two runs on five hits.
“Dane did a good job. He was throwing strikes,” Bullinger said after congratulating Dixon and his twin brother, Walker outfielder Chance Dixon, on the win. “We did hit some balls hard, we hit some balls right at him, but not enough to really talk about.”
Shaw fared slightly better offensively than it did on defense, but Bullinger said the loss of momentum from the second inning kept the Eagles sluggish the remainder of the game.
The Eagles finished the night with six hits, three of which came off doubles from center fielder Caiden Reid. Reid went 3-for-4 with two runs.
“We gave up the six spot and then we kind of lost our energy and it took us a while to get back into the game,” Bullinger said. “That can’t happen. We’ve got to get more runs in the middle innings.”