By Dennis Glade
Washington’s Brayden Walls has been a rock of consistency this season, and Tuesday night he got a little help from his friends.
Washington (9-6, 4-2 Big 8) defeated Princeton (6-9, 1-3), 4-2, Tuesday evening at the Sports Complex behind six strong innings from Tyler Edmiston and two RBIs from Walls.
Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the fifth, Washington needed a rally with the possibility of falling to .500 in conference with a loss. After Colten Garland made an out, Nathan Sult singled and Jake Bedwell reached base when Princeton shortstop David Ellis threw the ball into right field at the start of a potential 6-4-3 double play, and Walls stepped to the plate.
Walls doubled off the centerfield wall, scoring Sult and Bedwell to give the Hatchets a 3-2 lead.
“Brayden Walls is just absolutely electric at the plate right now,” said Washington coach Steve Reed. “He’s in a zone.”
Walls was 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles to raise his batting average to .550 on the season, but the most important hit of the night may have come an inning later from Garland, Reed’s freshman secondbaseman. After Max Smith wasn’t able to drive in Deron Baxter from second with one out, Garland singled to right field to give Washington an insurance run and a 4-2 lead.
That run came in handy the next inning when Princeton’s Nathan Watkins doubled off Walls, who had entered the game in the seventh to close out the win.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I almost pinch hit for him there,” Reed said.
“He popped up the first two times, and I had a feeling. I know what the kid can do. Garland is an athlete - he knows how to swing the bat. I had a feeling there that he was going to come through with a line drive, and sure enough he did.” Walls got the next two outs for the save, including a strikeout of Matt Stone to end the game.
Edmiston allowed just two runs in six innings while striking out eight Princeton batters, but had some control issues early on when he walked a batter in each of the first four innings.
“He (Edmiston) just fought through it,” Reed said. “He bulldogged it, it was a gutty performance by Edmiston today.”
Washington will host Evansville Bosse tonight at the Sports Complex as they try for back-to-back victories for the first time since they the second week of April when the Hatchets won three in a row.
“We got to keep having good at bats,” Reed said. “There were times today we did and times today we didn’t. We talk about competing at the plate, I thought today for the most part we had some pretty good outs, when we were hitting the ball hard.”
Princeton 000 200 0 ¬ 2 3 4
Washington 010 021 x ¬ 4 8 1
Edmiston, Walls (7th) and Sult; Tingley and Stuckey.
W-Edmiston L-Tingley S-Walls.