The Bellevue Bruins spend most of their season playing in front of crowds of fewer than 100 people, but pitcher Colton Walker had no stage fright before a crowd of 3,460 as he threw all nine innings of their 4-2 Avista NAIA World Series victory over Lewis-Clark State at Harris Field on Monday morning.
“When there’s a lot of cute girls in the stand, it’s easier to play better,” he observed.
Asked if he had expected to go the distance from the mound at the outset of the contest, Walker shook his head.
“No, you expect to go out there, try, and see where that gets you,” he replied. “When you get soft contact working, all four pitches, it really helps.”
A junior from The Dalles, Ore., Walker threw seven strikeouts while allowing L-C six base hits and only two runs — one apiece in the first and last innings — to help lay the Warriors’ season to rest and keep Bellevue’s Series hopes alive.
Coach Duane Monlux felt “the command wasn’t there” for Walker as he conceded the first run in the opening frame, but he settled in and “came up with some big pitches in key situations” as the contest progressed. Although the next seven innings were smooth sailing from the mound, there was still some concern about placing the full game’s burden on Walker’s shoulders.
“We were talking as a staff — ‘Should we put him back out there in the ninth?’” Monlux said. “And he came off the field, ‘Coach, I got this. I got this.’ So, sometimes you’ve just got to go against your instincts and let the kid compete.”
The ninth began ominously for Bellevue as the Warriors’ Kody Garvin homered on the first at-bat, but Walker steadied himself to throw his last two strikeouts en route to the win, improving his season record to 6-2.
“This season, it was one of my best performances, actually,” Walker said. “It’s just so exciting to throw nine innings in the World Series against L-C State and their home crowd, everyone here and like 3,400 people. That was pretty cool.”
“Super proud of him,” Monlux added. “He’s pitched some good games for us, but on this stage, it really means a lot.”
The Bruins (48-15) play another loser-out game today at 11 a.m.