Sophomore righthander Sam Walley pitched a complete game shutout to lead the LSU Eunice Bengals to a 6-0 victory over Hinds Community College Saturday night in the championship game of the Division Region 23 Tournament. The victory advanced the Bengals (43-9) to the Division II NJCAA World Series in Enid, Oklahoma.
“This group of sophomores didn’t want to be the class that failed to reach the World Series,” LSU Eunice Head Coach Jeff WIllis said after the win. “Our players just took over the game. They weren’t going to be denied. I pleased to see we didn’t dog-pile after the game. They feel that we have a goal still in front of us at the World Series.”
Walley shut down the Hinds offense by scattering nine hits, issuing one walk, and recording nine strikeouts. Walley, whose home town is Taylorsville, Mississippi, had some help from his defense in the early innings to keep his shutout intact.
In the third inning, Eagles designated hitter Tyler Cox led off with a double down the left field line. Walley struck out Kyle O’Keefe and got Hunter Bell to ground out, keeping Cox from advancing to third.
Quade Smith, the Eagles’ leadoff hitter, singled to left field and Cox was waved around third. He never touched home plate, though, as left fielder Cade Stone’s throw to catcher Jordan Romero was on the money and Romero tagged out Cox to end the inning.
With two out in the fifth inning, Cox singled against Walley. O’Keefe followed with a singled that dropped in front of Stone. Cox was waved around third and was again nailed at home plate as Stone threw to shortstop Brennan Bozeman, who relayed the throw to Romero for the putout to end the inning. The Eagles were never able to get a runner past second base over the final four innings.
Walley’s teammates, meanwhile, were scratching for runs off Eagles starting pitcher Austin Sanders. Steven Sensley managed a two-out single in the bottom of the first inning off Sanders. Two wild pitches and a passed ball later, Sensley had scored the game’s first run to put the Bengals up 1-0.
The Bengals made it 3-0 with two runs in the fifth. Romero doubled with one out and Trenon Trosclair drew a walk. Bozeman and Stone each singled before Sensley delivered a sacrifice fly.
The Bengals gave their pitcher three more runs in the seventh on a two-run double by Stone and a run-scoring single by Will Watson. Those runs gave Walley all he needed to finish out the final two innings.
Willis praised the effort of Walley in postgame comments. “As our closer last year he was on the mound when he lost this regional. It was fitting that he was on the mound tonight to earn the win with a complete-game shutout.”
The LSU Eunice Bengals defeated Hinds Community College in the NJCAA Region 23 National Tournament by a score of 6-0 to return to the Division II National Tournament in Enid, Oklahoma.