ROUND ROCK, TX — The Wall Hawks Baseball team traveled to Round Rock for the 2023 State Tournament at Dell Diamond in Round Rock on Friday. The Hawks matched up in the State Semifinal against the Corpus Christi London Pirates. After several scoreless innings to start the game, the Hawks slowly overpowered the Pirates to earn their spot in the title game 5-1.
In the early game, Boyd High School and Maypearl high school squared off in a hard-fought matchup that came down to the wire. In the end, The game took until the bottom of the 7th to decide a winner. Boyd walked off Maypearl in the 7th to advance to the State Championship final tomorrow.
Neither team managed to get their offenses in gear during the first. Kellan Oliver, Luke Kemp, and Gunnar Dillard went three up and three down in the top of the 1st to send the Hawks out on defense. Luke Kemp made the start for Wall on the mound but did not look like himself.
Kemp threw four straight balls and walked the first Corpus Christi batter before the catcher Gunnar Dillard called timeout. Coach Jason Schniers made the precautionary decision to pull Kemp off the mound as the young man looked in discomfort. The Freshman Kellan Oliver took over after that. Olliver started strong and forced three straight outs to get the Hawks out of the inning. The Pirates stranded one man on, and the score remained 0-0 headed to the 2nd inning.
London continued to pitch hard to Wall. The Hawks managed two base runners when Hagyn Barbee and Will Scherr drew walks, but Wall failed to capitalize with runners in scoring position. On defense, Wall's defense backed Oliver up in the field to put the first batters out. The freshman then walked one of the Pirates and hit another to put two on with two out. On the ensuing batter, the ball sneaked away from Dillard, and Corpus Christi tried to come home. Dillard threw the ball to Olliver, who put the Pirate out at the plate to end the inning. Wall headed to the 3rd inning with the score still tied, 0-0.
Wall's offense finally woke up in the 3rd inning. Kellan Oliver drew a walk to get on base with one out. Then, Luke Kemp singled to center field to put runners on first and second base. Dylan Gidney walked to load the bases and brought Hadyn Barbee up to the plate. Wall's other freshman singled to shallow right field, scoring Mason Martinez (Courtesy runner for Oliver) and Kemp in the process. The Hawks came out on defense in the bottom of the 3rd inning with a 2-0 lead.
Corpus Christi continued to struggle against Oliver and Wall's defense, and the Hawks held a 2-0 lead headed to the 4th inning.
This article will be updated as the game progresses.
The Hawks failed to replicate the same type of success they had in the third inning and went a quick 1, 2, 3-and-out. Corpus Christi London finally scored in the bottom of the 4th inning. After Oliver walked the first batter, a mistake from the Freshman moved the baserunner to second. Oliver was called for a balk on the mound when attempting to pick off the runner at first. A balk in baseball is when the pitcher makes an illegal move on the mound that the umpires determine to be illegal. A groundout moved the base runner to third. Unfortunately for Oliver, the umpires let nothing slide at the State Tournament and called the Freshman for another balk, and the baserunner scored.
The Pirates narrowed Wall's advantage, 2-1, headed to the 5th.
The Hawks earned back the run they gave up in the 4th inning. Kemp singled to right to start off the inning. The pitcher tried to pick Kemp off at first, but the throw went wide. Luke advanced to second on the wild throw. Gunnar Dillard stepped up and hit a shot to right field that was caught for the out, but Kemp moved to 3rd base. Then, Dylan Gidney stepped up and hit an RBI single to score Kemp, and the Hawks extended their lead to 3-1.
The Hawks dealt with serious adversity in the bottom of the 6th inning. Dylan Gidney took over pitching duties for Kellan Oliver after the first two batters reached first and second safely. With two on and nobody out, Gidney forced two flyouts in a row before blowing the ball past a Pirate for a strikeout and the third out. The Hawks could have easily given up at least one run, but Wall weathered the storm to get out of the inning.
The Hawks had one final opportunity to add some insurance to give them the best chance to win the game. Kemp reached first on a walk, Dillard hit a sac fly to move Kemp to second, Gidney reached first a single, and then second on an error. Kemp moved to third on the same error. Barbee walked to load the bases and Caleb Braden hit a single to right to score both Kemp and Gidney. Wall took a 5-1 lead headed to the final frame.
Gidney continued to deliver on the mound early in the inning. He blew pitches by the first two batters, striking them out, and putting two outs on the board. Everyone became a little nervous when Gidney then walked the next three batters to load the bases. Coach Schniers came out to the mound to calm down his pitcher and assured him that everything would be alright. He was right, of course, as the next London batter popped out to right-center to end the game. Wall advanced to the title game with a 5-1 victory.
The Hawks face Boyd High School in the State Final on Saturday, June 10, at Dell Diamond in Round Rock at 9 a.m.