CENTRAL — Walker got some unexpected help Tuesday evening as it remained unbeaten in District 4-5A baseball. The Wildcats broke open a scoreless game with a five unearned runs in the fourth inning, and went on to defeat Central 7-1.
Credit Walker (17-9, 6-0) for taking advantage of three errors, a walk and a passed ball in the inning.
The inning featured two Walker hits, including one that hit the infield umpire as shortstop Griffin Walley was preparing to field the ball.
It wasn’t quite what coach Randy Sandifer expected after his Wildcats turned back Central 4-2 in the first round of district play.
“Our pitching and defense were solid tonight,” Sandifer said. “Coming in we thought it would be a low-scoring game. That fourth inning put (Central) in a tough spot.”
The inning started with Jacob Ard reaching base on a passed ball after he had whiffed on a third strike. He eventually came around to score on Kyle Nevels RBI single.
Central starting pitcher Makhail Hilliard appeared ready to limit the damage to one run, but with two men on and two outs second baseman Hunter Hebert couldn’t handle Corey Dietrich hard grounder. Both runners scored for a 3-0 Walker lead.
Walker loaded the bases after another error, and Dane Dixon’s ricochet hit off the umpire. Chance Dixon then sent a shot to second base that got by Hebert, and two more runs came home.
“That was untypical for us. We’re usually pretty good defensively,” said Central coach Mike Forbes, whose team is now 14-12 overall and 2-4 in district play.
“You can’t win ballgames when you’re doing that. They did a good job putting pressure on us and we didn’t put pressure on them.”
Walker got a complete game from Noah Danburg, who pitched to the minimum 12 batters in the first four innings while throwing only 36 pitches. He ran into trouble in the fifth inning after Brant Guerin led off with a single.
Guerin took second on a wild pitch, and made it to third on a ground ball. He scored on another wild pitch, but it was all the scoring Central would muster.
Central loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Danburg retired R.J. Coffee and Andrew Harris to end the game. Sandifer said the big lead might have affected Danburg’s pitching.
“I don’t think he lost focus but he probably relaxed a little,” Sandifer said. “He just wanted to get them to swing the bat (after getting the lead). The last two innings he went back to pitching like it was a one-run game.”
Hilliard went 5.1 innings for Central surrendering three hits and six runs, but only one was earned. He walked four batters and struck out seven.