The Raiders, however, didn’t give up after the Hornets erupted for four runs in the top of the fifth. And it looked for a moment as if they were going to pull off the remarkable comeback with nine outs to play.
But Walton came up one run short, and it had to settle for a 7-6 loss in the Class AAAAAA semifinals.
Instead of returning to the state finals for the first time since 2008, Walton (26-11) saw its season come to a close. Roswell (22-12) advanced to face archrival Milton — the third of Region 5AAAAAA’s three semifinalists — for the championship.
Walton scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth and one in the sixth to get back in it. It had courtesy runner Kyle Hess in scoring position with one out in the seventh but couldn’t get him across.
“It was a one-run ballgame, and these guys never quit,” Shane Amos said. “There were a couple of innings where we could have played better. If I had to look up something on the negative side, you can’t put up a four-spot in a final four series against a good team like Roswell.”
Walton began manufacturing runs in the fifth, when Roswell put in its Game 1 winner, Austin Krzeminski, on the mound. After pitching a complete game shutout in the opener Monday, the Raiders started getting to Krzeminski on Tuesday.
Luke Manzo reached on an infield single to start the inning and came home on an RBI hit by Avery Roberts. Chase Burks followed with a two-run home run to cut the Roswell lead to two.
Walton did more damage in the sixth, all coming with two outs. Stephen Wrenn, who was 3-for-4 after failing to get a hit in Monday’s doubleheader, reached on a single and scored on an RBI hit by Manzo.
Walton reliever Caleb Bohan needed just three pitches to take care of Roswell in the top of the seventh, giving the Raiders a shot to tie or win it in the bottom half.
It was looking good for Walton early.
Aaron Rzucidlo led off with a single to center, and Roberts bunted courtesy runner Hess over to second. With two outs to play with, Burks hit a hard grounder to the shortstop, and Bradley Schwartz struck out swinging, allowing Krzeminski to preserve Roswell’s lead.
“He threw 80 pitches (Monday), and he throws all the time,” Roswell coach Mike Power said of Krzeminski. “He said he felt great. He came to me (Monday) night and said, ‘I can go.’ He’s been one of our top guys in the playoffs and we were either going to win it or lose it with him.”
Walton had trouble with starting pitcher Devin Browning in the first three innings. The Raiders got on the board in the fourth on an RBI hit by Schwartz, who came home on an RBI hit by Wrenn.
Roswell broke the game open in the top of the fifth with six straight hits off relievers Harrison Veldsma and Bohan, resulting in four runs. A two-run double by Alex Dickerson highlighted the inning, and the Hornets scored another on a suicide squeeze play by Mitchell Benson.
Unfortunately for Walton, there was a chance that four-run fifth inning by Roswell could have been avoided. The Hornets’ first two hits looked to be catchable balls in the outfield.
Wrenn looked to have misjudged the height of Drew Davis’ fly ball to center that started the inning, and it fell in front of him for a hit. Syd Hopkins followed with a deep ball to left, Tyler Heinrichs was unable to track it, and the ball fell in the left corner for a double.
“We kind of lost it in the high sky there and sometimes that’s how the game goes,” Amos said.