WALKER — It wasn’t a thing of baseball beauty. On Tuesday, Walker High and Archbishop Rummel combined for seven errors and each yielded a mistake-prone big inning to the other.
But after Rummel reliever Tyler Braud came on to strike out the final two batters with the bases loaded, his coach, Nick Monica, could relax. The Raiders held on to beat Walker 10-8 in a first-round Class 5A playoff game.
“I’m not sure exactly what happened in that (fifth) inning,” Monica said. “I’m just glad we scored more runs than they did. Tyler took a no-hitter to the seventh last week. He’s a guy who’s earned our trust. He got the outs.”
Third baseman Darren Willis was 2-for-3 with a two-run double in the first for 17th-seeded Rummel, which advances to top-seeded Barbe and a best-of-three second-round series this weekend.
Designated hitter Lyall Ball also had two hits for the winners and starting pitcher Connor Cosse (6-3) got the win despite leaving in the fifth with a sprained elbow to his non-throwing arm.
Chance Dixon was 2-for-4 with an RBI for 16th-seeded Walker, which hosted a playoff game for the first time in more than a decade. Noah Danburg (5-3) got the loss.
“When we were down 9-3 after the top of the fifth, (our players) could have packed it in,” Walker coach Randy Sandifer said. “But they continued to fight and gave themselves a chance at the end.
“We were finally able to get over some hurdles we have been able to get over the last couple of years and got a high enough seed to host a playoff game. Hopefully we can build on that.”
The Raiders wasted no time in the top of the first. Center fielder Luke Lacoste reached on an infield single and third baseman Kevin Meehan reached on an error. One strikeout later, Ball singled to load the bases. Willis’ line drive to left bounced to the fence. It was a double that allowed Lacoste and Meehan to score.
Rummel’s 2-0 lead didn’t last long.The Wildcats scored three runs in the bottom of the second. Pitching inside was an issue for Cosse. The Raider right-hander hit three batters with inside pitches.
Designated hitter Bailey Gautreau was hit by a pitch to start the inning and took second on a passed ball. He scored from second when Danburg singled and the ball was misplayed in the outfield.
First baseman Ryan Farance and shortstop Griffin Walley also were hit by pitches as the Wildcats loaded the bases. Left fielder Dane Dixon’s single scored Farace and courtesy runner Hunter Naquin and gave Walker a 3-2 lead.
Things imploded for Walker in the top of the fifth as Rummel sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven runs. A combination of walks, a hit batter and an error were costly. The first two runs scored on wild pitches. An error brought in two more runs.
Walker got five runs to cut the Raiders’ 9-3 lead to 9-8 in the bottom of the fifth. Two errors on one play accounted for three runs. An RBI hit by Dixon brought in another run before Zach Cook, who replaced Cosse, got a ground out to end it.
A squeeze bunt by Trent Culley scored the last run for Rummel in the top of the seventh. Cook walked three in the bottom of the inning before Braud came on.