By Brian Paglia
MARIETTA - During the regular season, Eagle's Landing Christian Academy encountered Landmark Christian and Wesleyan, teams with two of the mightier lineups in all of Georgia. But after Wednesday's encounter with Walker, Chargers coach Doug Campbell said the Wolverines might be better.
ELCA didn't have a pitcher that could stop the torrent hitting Walker displayed in 16-4 and 17-8 wins to sweep the Chargers in the second round of the Class A tournament. For the two games, Walker totaled 35 hits, including 12 for extra bases, and two home runs.
"They just hit," Campbell said. "We didn't have anything for them. They don't chase bad pitches. ... They're every bit as good as Landmark Christian and Wesleyan, and they might be better than Wesleyan."
Walker (23-5) set the tone for the series in the opener by getting eight straight hits off ELCA starter Cole Carrera, including a three-run home run by Chris Ohmstede, to open up a 4-0 lead after the first inning.
ELCA (22-7) would get two-run home runs by Patrick Long and Brandon Barrett to tie the game at 4, but the Chargers pitching couldn't halt Walker's bats. Nor could they get off the field in the fourth, when the Wolverines sent 15 batters to the plate, getting nine runs on 10 hits to seize Game 1.
"That was rough," said Long, who signed with Jacksonville. "They just flat out hit. They have a good chance of winning it all."
By the way Game 2 began, it seemed ELCA had a good chance of salvaging a split.
Sophomore left-hander Kevin Martin flummoxed Walker's lineup with his lefty delivery and survived several tough spots with a combination of grit and outside curveballs. Walker went quietly in the second and third innings. Meanwhile, ELCA took a 4-3 lead with four straight hits by Levi Haines, Tyler Bannon, Carrera and Barrett.
Then the sixth inning came.
Walker second baseman James Clements hit a sharp grounder up the middle that ricocheted off Martin's foot. He stayed in for two more batters, but left after Art Sanguansri's two-run double gave Walker an 8-4 lead.
"I probably left (Martin) in two batters too long," Campbell said. "But it didn't matter, because we still couldn't get them out."
Campbell said he was proud of his team's determination despite being overmatched in talent. Going into the bottom of the seventh, the Chargers trailed 17-5. Yet, Carrera led off with his second solo home run of the game. Four batters later, Drew Griswell launched a two-run home run to center field.
"I was very proud of them," Campbell said. "Walker was more talented, but we didn't get down. We didn't give in, and that's the thing about this team.