Bidding to return to the finals for the first time since 2008, Walton will now have to get past a familiar foe — Region 5AAAAAA rival Roswell (20-11).
The teams, who will open their best-of-three series Monday at Walton, split their regular-season meetings, each side winning on the road.
“It ain’t like we haven’t seen them before,” Walton coach Shane Amos said. “They’re a good baseball team. They pitch well. They hit well and they play great defense, so I think it’s going to be a heck of a series.”
To get past Tift County (19-16), Walton (23-10) had to brush off a debilitating walk-off loss in Tuesday’s Game 2.
Wrenn’s leadoff homer helped relieve some of the pressure, and his teammates followed to help the Raiders to a three-run first frame.
“The fast start was good,” Amos said. “Their guy was throwing fastballs and we hit them hard. The kids did a great job (Wednesday).”
Following Wrenn’s homer, Henry Rowling hit a two-run homer after Luke Manzo reached on a walk. That was all Tift pitcher Will Reinhardt could do before he was pulled in the first inning of the game.
Chase Thomas lasted until the third inning for the Blue Devils before he, too, was pulled for allowing two runs in the third. Aaron Rzucidlo doubled to score Manzo, and then Chase Burks singled to score Rowling.
Wrenn had a modest, but useful, performance on the mound for Walton, allowing two runs off of eight hits. He managed to hold the bats at bay just enough to allow Bohan into the game.
“Stephen got gassed a little bit,” Amos said. “The temperature was up (Wednesday) — you know he just got hot. He had an inning out there where he struggled a little bit through some pitches and got a little bit worn out and exhausted.
“But he did a great job for us. He held them where he did and allowed Caleb to come in and close it out,”
Bohan struck out two of the final three batters and allowed just two hits and one walk in three innings. His final strikeout sent the Raiders into the semifinals and into a showdown against a longtime rival.
“You can’t say enough about him,” Amos said of Bohan. “He came out there and bowed his neck and got us some big outs in the last couple of innings. He did a hell of a job.”
Rowling and Chase Burks led at the plate for Walton, going 2-for-2 and 2-for-3, respectively. Rzucidlo was also 2-for-3 and had two RBIs.
Each teams produced 10 hits, and neither committed a single error.