Archbishop Shaw had been waiting two years to finally meet Walker High on the baseball diamond after a series of rainouts prevented the programs from completing a game in four tries.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they will have to wait a little longer to record a win against the Wildcats.
In a nondistrict game that was originally scheduled for the early portion of the season, Shaw fell to Walker 8-4 after a disastrous second inning put the Eagles (13-9) in a hole the couldn’t climb out of Monday.
The Wildcats (13-13) scored six runs in the second inning despite only recording one hit after Shaw starting pitcher Zach Autin walked in three runs while another scored on a wild pitch.
Two other runs in the second scored on third baseman Bryce Tassin’s sacrifice fly to right field to score pitcher Dane Dixon and right fielder Kyle Nevels’ double to center, scoring left fielder Tristian Jeansonne.
Shaw coach Kirk Bullinger opted to let Autin finish the inning, though, as the pitcher regained his composure to close the inning with his fifth strikeout of the night.
Autin gave up six runs on two hits. He struck out five, walked two, hit two batters and threw two wild pitches in two innings.
“(Autin) struggled a little bit early in the first inning, but then he came back and struck out the side, then he goes back out there and can’t find it,” Bullinger said. “I was trying to work him through it. He needs to build some confidence … but he was never able to find it and unfortunately, that was the difference in the game.”
Autin was eventually replaced by Cory Nini in the third inning. Nini did a better job of suppressing Walker’s bats, but the Wildcats tacked on another pair of runs in the fifth inning, including one on another wild pitch to Jeansonne.
“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.
“It was nice having that early where we could relax and not have it come down to the fifth or sixth inning with it being a one-run game.”
Shaw fared slightly better offensively, but Bullinger said the loss of momentum from the second inning kept the Eagles sluggish the remainder of the game.
The Eagles finished the game with six hits, three of which came on doubles from centerfielder 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.”
There was a little extra sting in the loss for Bullinger on Monday as Walker starting pitcher Dane Dixon is a distant cousin of the coach.
Bullinger congratulated Dixon and his twin brother and centerfielder Chance Dixon after the game but couldn’t help but point out the way his relative dominated the Eagles.
Dixon failed to record a strikeout during the game, but only allowed two runs on five hits.
“Dane did a good job. He was throwing strikes,” Bullinger said. “We did hit some balls hard, we hit some balls right at him, but not enough to really talk about.”