Griffons top Outlaws in home finale
Nevada Griffons pitcher Payton Walker dominated the Joplin Outlaws in Monday night's home finale at Lyons Stadium.
The Carl Junction native tossed a four-hit complete game shutout, propelling the Griffons (24-22, 21-22 MINK League) to a 1-0 victory.
However, it wasn't exactly smooth sailing. Walker, a southpaw out of Missouri Southern, was drilled in the left shoulder by a line drive off the bat of Joplin shortstop Samuel Doucet in the second inning, knocking him to the ground.
"It hurt pretty bad right when it happened," Walker said. "But it kind of just stayed at that level the rest of the game."
After throwing a handful of practice pitches, Walker elected to stay in the game.
"It's just kind of a 'fight through it thing,"' he said. "It didn't feel bad enough to quit."
In the fourth inning, Doucet again took aim, lining another pitch in Walkers direction.
"That one got me in the cleats, so it didn't hurt that bad," he said.
The lone run of the game came in the bottom of the fifth inning. With 1 out in the inning and Griffons center fielder Cooper Burton on first base, Jimmy Spanos singled to center field, advancing Burton to second. Up next, Griffon first baseman Gerardo Arzaga singled to left field, scoring Burton from second. A wild pitch by Bradford moved both Spanos and Arzaga up 90 feet on the base paths. However, Nevada failed to capitalize, stranding both runners.
It appeared as though the Griffons might pick up an insurance run after Anthony Davison led off the bottom of the eighth with a double down the left field line. A sacrifice bunt advanced Davison to third, but Joplin relief pitcher Jackson Rolfs was able to emerge from the inning unscathed.
Walker retired the Outlaws in order in the top of the ninth inning. "Down the stretch, I felt like I was throwing harder," Walker said. "I was probably throwing more fastballs than anything else as the game went on. My fastball and curveball (80/20) were the main pitches for me tonight." According to Walker, quick and efficient innings were key to his success.
"A lot of those guys were swinging at the first pitch," he said. "Innings were pretty quick. I had a lot of six, seven pitch innings."
Walker said this was his best performance of the summer, and that he's "getting better with every start."
Walker (4-3) struck out three, issued three walks, while allowing only four hits over nine frames. Bradford (3-4) took the loss, yielding an earned run and five hits in six innings of work.
Davison was the only Griffon with a multi-hit game going 2 for 4 at the plate. Burton was 1 for 2 with a run scored.