Freshman Elijah Watts threw his second shutout of the year Friday as Resurrection opened its third round of the Class 1A baseball playoffs series with a 4-0 win over Ethel.
Watts ran into trouble in only two innings, the first and fourth, leaving the bases full of Tigers in both innings. Hayes Wood and Tyson Steen singled around Watts’ first strikeout of the game. Cody Weeks walked with two outs to load the bases, but Watts got out of the inning with a grounder to first.
Watts finished with seven strikeouts.
“He struggled with his control early,” said Eagles coach Johnny Olsen. “But he got better as the game went on.”
“I just had to find my groove,” Watts said. “I found it after the first inning.”
In the fourth, Weeks reached on a one-out walk and was followed by a solid single Brady Odom. Watts got the second out on a strikeout, then Tanner Reeves walked to load the bases. Again, Ethel would not be able to push a run across as Watts got his third strikeout of the inning to leave the bases full.
Watts would allow only one more baserunner, Wood, who singled to start the fifth, but was immediately erased on a double play, before retiring the last eight batters. The secret of the night was getting his fastball over for strikes. That allowed him to mix in his curveball and keep Ethel batters off balance all night.
“I kept getting ground-ball outs and my great defense behind me made the plays,” he said.
“He’s just steady,” Olsen said. “He’s a battler and he has great mound presence.”
The Eagles (21-7) opened their scoring in the first inning without the benefit of a hit. A walk, error and a hit batsman loaded the bases for Wesley McClain, whose one-out walk forced the first run in. However, that would be all the Eagles would get as a strikeout and grounder to short ended the inning.
Resurrection added a second run in the second despite getting four hits in the inning. Brady Gililand opened with a single behind first base. Ty Tingle followed with his first hit of the night, to put runners at first and second. Patrick Newton singled to drive in Gililand, leaving runners on first and second.
Tingle, though was thrown out trying to steal third, with Newton advancing to second on the out. Patrick Lee followed with a solid single to center, but Ethel centerfielder Reeves threw Newton out at home.
The Eagles resumed their scoring in the fourth with two outs. Gililand was hit by a pitch to start the rally. Tingle doubled to put runners at second and third. Newton hit a high bouncer to third that the third baseman couldn’t come up with, to score Gililand. Lee’s single up the middle gave the Eagles a 4-0 lead.
“We just played our type of baseball,” Olsen said. “We had good pitching and were steady on defense.”
Newton led the Eagles with two hits, a walk and two RBIs. Tingle added a double and single and Lee came through with a pair of hits and an RBI.