After making it to the Final Four last season, the South Walton Seahawks got off to a good start Tuesday evening with a 7-0 win over the visiting Holmes County Blue Devils in varsity baseball action.
The Seahawks pitching staff threw a two-hitter while the bats came alive late connecting for a total of six hits.
“I’m proud of our pitchers. They came in here and did a good job,” said South Walton Coach Nick Borthwick. “We’ve got six or seven quality arms … I appreciated them working hard and getting ready to play. They did a good job tonight out here.”
Cole Varner started on the mound for the Seahawks and pitched five innings, faced 17 batters, struck out 10, walked two and gave up one hit. Stone Bailey came in as relief in the sixth and faced three batters, struck out one and gave up one hit. Kia Wilk finished up in the seventh, facing three batters and walking one.
As for the bats, the Seahawks connected, but not until late.
“Late we had a couple of nice hits in a row,” Borthwick said. “But I’d like to see our bats come alive earlier.”
In the first inning, South Walton sat Holmes down quickly with a groundout to short stop Aiden Keenan, a strikeout by Varner and ground ball back to Varner.
The Seahawks got a couple of runners on base in the bottom half, but never made it past second base.
In the top of the second, South Walton’s Varner sat the Blue Devils down one two three on strikeouts.
South Walton didn’t have much luck in the bottom half. Drake Roberts walked but they left him stranded.
In the top of the third, Varner picked up where he left off and struck out the first two Blue Devils. Aaron Cooper connected for a hit up the middle and then Caleb Cooley walked. Varner rang up the next batter to finish out the inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the third and a runner on base, South Walton’s Michael Sharp singled. Both runners were left on when the next batter struck out.
In the top of the fourth, the Seahawks pulled off a double play. With a runner on first, the next batter hit a shot with Keenan making the catch. Keenan then made the throw to first baseman Taylor Collier, who made the stretch for the catch and the put out. The next batter grounded out to finish out the inning.
South Walton’s bats finally came alive in the bottom half. Roberts walked, and then Wilk and Collier hit back-to-back singles to load the bases. At that point the Holmes County pitchers struggled and walked in four runs.
In the top of the fifth, Varner made one more stand on the mound, striking out three in a row.
The Seahawks had one more good turn at bat in the bottom of the sixth. Keenan walked, and then Sharp and Varner belted back-to-back doubles with two scoring on Varner’s hit. Roberts followed with a single to left for an RBI and a 7-0 lead.
In the top of the seventh, South Walton sat the Blue Devils down quickly with a ground out to Tommy McCoy at second. Minutes later, Keenan, McCoy and Collier combined to pull off a double play and finish the game.
Coach Borthwick bragged on his defense, especially his shortstop.
“Aiden Keenan made some big time plays out there. I’m very proud of him … he’s very athletic,” Borthwick said. “I’m thrilled and proud of this team.”
Up next for South Walton is a 6:30 p.m. Friday at North Bay Haven and then 6:30 p.m. Monday at Arnold.