After losing the opener 6-0, Walker picked up a narrow 8-7 win in the second game. The three-game series will conclude with a game set for 2 p.m. today.
Walker ace Justin Kamplain left the second game with an 8-1 lead entering the bottom of the seventh inning. Two relievers combined to walk four batters and gave up a grand slam as Southside cut the gap to 8-7 with two outs. That’s when Kamplain re-entered and closed out the game with a strikeout to send the series to a decisive third game.
“(Today) we’ll just throw it up and see what happens,” Walker coach Pat Ware said. “Nic Woodley will be getting the ball. His last couple of outings have been really good. We’ll get after them tomorrow. We just want to get one more run than they get and move on to the next round.”
In the second game, Kamplain allowed just two hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
Ninth-ranked Walker (22-15) scored two runs in the first inning and led 6-0 going into the bottom of the fourth. Southside struck for a run in the bottom of the inning. Walker added two runs in the top of the seventh inning, including one run on a balk, for an 8-1 lead.
Southside took advantage of a single and four walks in the bottom of the seventh before Caleb Butler belted a grand slam over the left-field fence to cut the gap to one run.
“We said if they got the tying run up to the plate, we would put Justin back in to finish it,” Ware said.
Kamplain did just that on four pitches to end the game.
At the plate for Walker, Kamplain was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, Michael Tedford was 3-for-4 with two runs, John Michael Knighton was 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI, Patrick Maddox was 1-for-4 with a double and three runs, Eric Vinson was 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI, Tyler Culverson was 1-for-4 with an RBI and Dexter Jenkins was 1-for-3.
Ware expects another close game today.
“We’re two very similar teams. Anytime you play Southside, you know it’s going to be tough. It’s a fun series. I’m looking forward to Game 3,” Ware said.
Janiel Lester and Kyle Chesser proved to be a dominant duo for Southside in the opener.
Lester held Walker to six hits on the mound while Chesser was a perfect 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a home run. He also scored three runs and drove in a pair as the Panthers won 6-0.
Southside (17-16) wasted no time taking control of the game, scoring three runs in the first inning. The Panthers’ first three batters reached base and scored. Southside took advantage of three hits, a walk and a hit batsman in the inning. Chesser had an RBI-double, Joey Atchley followed with an RBI-single and Caleb Butler drove in the third run with a single.
That was more than enough offense for Lester. After allowing a walk in the second inning, he sat down seven straight batters.
Southside added a pair of runs in the third inning. Chesser opened the frame with a solo home run and a Taylor Snow double drove in Trent Wilson for the Panthers’ fifth run of the game. Chesser added the final run. He singled to lead off the seventh inning, moved to third on two passed balls and scored on an Atchley groundout.
Walker’s best scoring opportunity came in the sixth when the Vikings loaded the bases with two outs. Kamplain hit a bloop double to start the rally. Maddox was hit by a pitch and Culverson lined a single to left field to load the bases. Lester struck out Shane Donaldson looking to get out of the jam.
Lester allowed six hits and three walks while striking out six in seven innings.
For Walker, Knighton took the loss. He gave up five hits, two walks and five runs — four earned — while striking out one. Clay Boylen pitched well in relief, allowing one unearned run and three hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Woodley led the Vikings at the plate, going 2-for-3. Kamplain was 1-for-3 with a double while Culverson, Knighton and Tedford each added a hit.
For Southside, Atchley was 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI, Wilson was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and a run and Butler was 1-for-3 with an RBI.