Walker strikes out 11 in Griffins’ win over Keenan

In a close call Tuesday, Fairfield’s Compton Walker is called out at the plate in the bottom of the second inning.

Compton Walker struck out 11 and gave up just two runs on two hits Tuesday night, leading the Fairfield Central Griffins baseball squad over the Keenan Raiders at home, 9-2, in Region III 2-A play. Walker was also 2-for-3 at the plate, with a single, a double and two RBIs.

Tuesday night, Walker worked through three scoreless innings, fanning six but walking four as his command of the strike zone wavered from inning to inning. Josh McCollough led off the fourth with a 1-0 single, went to second on a passed ball and to third on a sacrifice bunt by the Raiders’ left fielder, Brandon Martin. Walker struck out Eric Jacobs for the second out, but then lost control of the strike zone, walking the next three batters to force in one run and issuing a wild pitch to force in another. Walker recovered to strike out Keenan second baseman William Campbell to end the inning and strand a pair of Raiders.

Keenan’s two-run fourth put only a dent in the Griffins’ lead, cutting the margin to 6-2.

After going down relatively quietly in the first, the middle of the Griffins’ order peppered Zach Ameen with four hits and five runs in the second. The Raider defense did Adams no favors, committing three errors in the frame.  Designated hitter Chris Raley led off the inning with a single to left and went to second on an error. Ta’Quann Kelly followed, reaching on a fielder’s choice and pushing Raley to third. Kelly was caught trying to swipe second, opening up the first base bag for Markell Whitaker, who also reached on a fielder’s choice and had better luck than Kelly stealing second. Brandon Adams then drove in Raley with a long sacrifice fly to deep left, and Nick Goins drove in Whitaker with an RBI single up the middle. Javarius Cook brought in Goins with an RBI single, then stole his way to third, scoring on an errant throw down the line by the Keenan catcher. Chris Boyd reached first on an error by the Keenan third baseman and came around on a double by Walker, the first of his two RBIs on the night. Walker was nailed for the final out of the inning trying to score on a Jarvis Kennedy single in a close play at the plate, but by then the Griffins had built a 5-0 lead.

Fairfield added a sixth run in the bottom of the third when Kelly, who had coaxed a free pass out of Ameen, scored on a wild pitch.

Although Walker struggled with consistency on the mound, he managed to keep the Raiders at bay for the remainder of the game, stranding 10 Keenan base runners on the night. The Griffins, meanwhile, plated two more in the fifth when Adams, who led off the frame with a single, stole second, then went to third on one passed ball and later scored on another. Pinch hitter Jacob Farrell drew a walk, as did Cook and Boyd. With the bags loaded, Walker lifted a long sacrifice fly to left, scoring Farrell to make the score 8-2. The Griffins tacked on their final run in the sixth when Kelly, who reached on his second walk of the night, scored on a wild pitch.

Ameen lasted four and a third innings for the Raiders, giving up four earned runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out two. Eric Jacobs faced three batters in the fifth, walking all three before being lifted for Marley Poole, who finished the night for Keenan.

The Griffins are jockeying for playoff position in Class 2-A, and with their record now at 6-2 in the region look to lock up a home game in the postseason with a win either tonight (April 12) at Pelion or next Tuesday at North Central.