Braves advance to semifinals

Indian Creek junior pitcher Max Walls hadn’t pitched in a couple of weeks.

He didn’t show any signs of rust, as he was perfect for the first four innings, helping lead the Braves to a 10-1 victory against Edinburgh on Tuesday night in the first round of the Johnson County Tournament.

The Braves (13-0) will play host Center Grove, which received a bye, in a Saturday semifinal. The championship game will follow.

Walls gave up a walk in the fifth and then gave up two hits in the sixth inning. He finished with seven strikeouts and the two hits in six innings.

“It’s been a while since he’s thrown, and he needed some good innings (Tuesday night), and he got them,” Indian Creek coach Eddie Willis said. “With the postseason coming up, we have to have everyone firing on all cylinders.”

Walls is usually the No. 3 or 4 starter.

“I had been struggling lately,” Walls said.

But not Tuesday, with six strikeouts in first three innings.

“My fastball was working early,” Walls said. “After I got a little tired, I started slowing the speed down. It wasn’t working as effectively.”

Walls, who had a five-inning no-hitter against Southwestern (Shelby) earlier in the year, said he wasn’t bothered by not getting the no-hitter.

“As long as we get the ‘W,’ that’s all that matters,” he said.

Senior Tyler Parks delivered three RBI singles in the second, third and six innings and walked in his other at-bat.

“It was huge for him,” Willis said. “He definitely needed a good game. He’s been struggling. He was our leading hitter last year, hitting over .400. He’s about .350, but he was in a mini-slump.”

Parks said his hitting had dropped off the past couple of games.

“I feel like I saw the ball well and just wanted to make contact,” Parks said. “I just wanted to put the ball in play and have my chance to score.”

Parks said the Braves have been playing well as the postseason looms.

“This is the best team I’ve been on,” Parks said.

The Braves delivered 10 hits, scoring two in the second and three in the third.

“We got on their pitcher right away,” Parks said.

Sophomore Dawson Reed had two-run double in the sixth for the Braves. Senior Sam Willis and sophomore Jared DeHart, who pitched the final inning, each had two hits for the Braves. Sophomore Joey Willis had an RBI with a sacrifice fly for the Braves.

Trailing 10-0, senior Kinser Bryant got an RBI single for the Lancers (7-10), forcing the Braves to play the final inning instead of ending with a 10-run rule.

“I don’t think they’ve had many seven-inning games, and we’ve been able to push them to seven twice,” Edinburgh coach Michael Bryant said.

The Braves beat Edinburgh 6-0 earlier in the year, but that game had a different feel, Bryant said. Bryant said he threw his ace Kinser Bryant and Indian Creek had one of its top pitchers going.

Edinburgh sophomore pitcher Tavian Cosby started his first game Tuesday.

“We look at the county tournament a little different because we’re the smallest school (Class A),” Bryant said. “Indian Creek is 3A and everyone else is 4A. We look at it as batting practice kind of and see if we can go through it without making errors, which I think we did a pretty good job of (Tuesday with one error). We tried to play as clean a game as we could.”

Bryant said he couldn’t afford to use one of best pitchers with games left this week and sectionals starting next week.

“We were trying to score runs,” Bryant said. “We put the ball in play but not as much as I would like or thought we would.”

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Mark Ambrogi is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.