WALKER -- At the end of the day, coach Clint Carver got exactly what he was looking for from the Walker Metro baseball team.
Casen Carver had a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning, and Seth Terrell, Gatlon Steele, Braylen Ainsworth and Chance Reed combined on a one-hitter with eight strikeouts as the Wildcats picked up a 3-1 win over St. Amant-based Pit Stop at Walker on Thursday.
“I was excited about the way we had timely hitting,” Clint Carver said. “We made mistakes early, but we’re dealing with a group of kids that have never played varsity. We’re playing varsity teams. We played Parkview. We played Dutchtown. We play St. Amant. (Wednesday) night, we played Zachary, and they have everybody. We’re missing five guys (who are playing with travel teams this summer), so it’s a chance for these guys to learn, so there’s going to be ups and downs. Tonight, we missed a sign, we struck out with guys in scoring position, but then we get the big hit by Ethan Renfrow, we get the big hit by Casen, and I thought our pitching was really, really good. They were good one inning and then they started to falter, but you get somebody else in, and it gets them out of the inning. I thought for the overall concept of the game, we got a lot of productivity tonight.”
Walker trailed 1-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning of the game, which was shortened to five innings with both teams looking to conserve their pitching for weekend games and next week.
Taylor Jeansonne led off the bottom of the fourth with a single down the third base line, and Connor Watts reached on an error when his bunt was fielded by the pitcher and the throw got away at second base on an attempted fielder’s choice.
After Tristan Priest struck out swinging, Ethan Renfrow followed with a single to right-center field to tie the game at 1-1.
Renfrow stole second, and Casen Carver followed with a single up the middle to score two runs for the final margin.
“We had two runners on. I know all we needed was one to tie it, but we needed two to win, so I just went up there, touched it,” Casen Carver said. “They were playing in, just get it in the outfield and score a run.”
Reed came on to retire the side, striking out two in the top of the fifth, for the save.
Ainsworth got the win, giving up a hit, a run and a walk while striking out two in two innings of relief.
Terrell walked three and struck out four with no hits in 1.2 innings as the Walker starter, while Steele got an out on one pitch in relief.
“Seth Terell’s normally been a reliever and he asked me could he start,” Clint Carver said. “There’s a different mentality when you start, so we wanted to start him. He did really good in the first. He ran into a little bit of trouble in the second. Braylen came in did a great job, and they had one little flare.
"Our culture here is throw strikes," Clint Carver continued. "The saying that I have is, ‘strikes early, pitch late.’ What that means is your first focus is throw strikes. Once you start throwing strikes and you’re comfortable, it may be the first inning. It may be the first game. It may be the first month. When you’re comfortable throwing strikes, then we start pitching. What you’re seeing with these younger guys is now they’re able to start pitching, because when they were coming in at the varsity level, there was a lot of intensity and maybe some fear. Now they have a whole summer to just relax and play baseball, and it’s starting to show. They’re getting a lot better.”
Both teams missed scoring chances, with St. Amant stranding three runners over the first three innings, and Walker stranding five in the same span. The Wildcats left seven on base in the game.
St. Amant got its run in the top of the fourth on a single to center after a walk and a hit batter with one out.
Reed, Jeansonne, Priest, Renfrow and Casen Carver had hits for Walker.
“I’m a big ‘win first’ guy,” Clint Carver said. “You know that, and (Walker head) Coach (Randy) Sandifer … had to tell me, ‘Clint, I know you want to win, but sometimes you have to step back and look at the productivity. How good are we getting? We’re throwing to cutoff men. We’re getting bunts down. We’re throwing strikes, all the things that him as the head coach needs for next year and the year after, and we are doing it. It’s been a great summer so far. It’s still early and we’ve got a lot left.”