ABILENE, TX — Inclement weather seems to follow the Wall Hawks every week throughout the 2023 baseball playoffs, and Game 1 of the Regional Final matchup against the Brock Eagles began no different. Originally scheduled to start at 7 p.m., the Hawks finally saw the first pitch at 9:30 p.m. The late start did nothing to slow these Hawks, as Wall jumped out into an early lead and never looked back. A stellar performance from Freshman Pitcher Kellen Oliver silenced the powerhouse Eagles, and Wall snagged Game 1 of the three-game series, 6-2.
“What a performance from Kellen Oliver tonight,” Head Coach Schniers said after the game. “He’s been struggling, but we sat down and visited this week, and I told him that nothing has changed from your first outing [this season] to now other than your confidence level on the mound. Man, did he have some confidence tonight.”
The freshman pitched like a seasoned veteran on the mound for the Hawks in Game 1. Oliver threw a complete game and 90+ pitches in the win. “Super proud of that kid. He carried us in the win tonight,” Schniers said. Oliver allowed two runs on six hits. Pitching this deep in the playoffs is crucial, and with the young man’s performance on Thursday night, Wall has plenty of gas left in the tank.
Offensively, Wall began early and kept on Brock often. The Hawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first after two singles, a hit by pitch, and then two critical walks scored the first few runs. Hagyn Barbee drove in the first run on an RBI single to left before Luke Kemp and Dylan Gidney scored on walks.
Brock did not just roll over for Wall. The Eagles battled back in the second and third innings, scoring one run a piece to make the score 3-2 headed to the bottom of the third. Wall made up for any offense the Eagles mustered, however, and answered right back. Carter Aldridge collected two RBIs on the evening when he singled to center and scored Will Scherr and Hagyn Barbee. Wall led 5-2 after three innings.
Brock never managed to seriously threaten the Hawks after the third inning. Oliver continued to deliver strikeouts at the plate, and Wall’s defense made zero mistakes in the field. Hagyn Barbee added another insurance run on a failed pickoff attempt that advanced him to third. A passed ball two pitches later saw him cross home plate to extend Wall’s lead to four in the fifth inning.
Wall shut out the Eagles in the final two frames to claim victory in Game 1 with a score of 6-2. The Hawks and Eagles return to action for Game 2 of the Regional Final back at Abilene Christian University on Friday, June 2, at 4 p.m. Wall has the opportunity to win the series if they pull off another victory. If Brock takes the day, then Game 3 will be on Saturday at 4 p.m.
The winner of this series will face the winner of West vs. Maypearl in the state championship.