The Wolfpack’s No. 1 starter, Combs recorded his first win since undergoing 16 months of rehab following Tommy John surgery he underwent in the fall of 2012. He finished the game with two earned runs on five hits, one walk and five strikeouts.
“I’ve slowly been coming back,” Combs said. “I came in with, like, two innings last week, but I got to go the full game (Tuesday), which was good. It’s the first time I pitched a complete game (since the surgery), and it’s my first win since coming back, so it feels pretty good.”
Combs received help from up and down the Whitefield lineup, which produced nine hits and took advantage of four walks, three stolen bases, a hit batsman, three wild pitches, a passed ball and four errors.
Sam Fuller batted 2-for-4 with three RBIs for Whitefield (4-2, 1-1). Matt Olson was 1-for-3 with an RBI and scored twice. Combs, Bradley Davidson, Griffin Combs and Luke Miltner each had a single. Robert Boyd, Griffin Combs, John Schwartz and Miltner each scored a run.
“We took advantage of their mistakes,” Whitefield coach Michael Bailey said. “We came out and hit the ball a lot better than we had in the past, so I felt like we did a good job with that.
“Bailey dominated from start to finish. Little errors in the beginning got us, but, for the most part, we covered and did a good job. It’s a wide-open region, and we’re excited to be in the hunt for it.”
Walker (3-3, 1-1) took a 2-0 first-inning lead when Zach Eikost drew a bases-loaded walk that scored Kevin Bray, and a sacrifice fly from Blake Whiting that plated Cameron Bloebaum.
Whitefield tied the contest in the third when Fuller’s two-out single scored courtesy runner Boyd and Olson. Boyd came in after Bailey Combs was hit by a pitch.
As Combs and his defense appeared to improve, that was not the case for the Walker defense that stood behind Eikost not.
Seven players came to the plate for Whitefield, which took a 4-2 lead in the fifth by taking advantage of three hits, an error, two stolen bases and a passed ball. Fuller’s one-out RBI single scored Olson for the second time, and a passed ball plated Davidson for the two-run lead.
Zach Mudge relieved Eikost in the sixth, but the Whitefield offense kept going as Miltner scored on a balk and Olson’s sacrifice fly plated Schwartz.
Griffin Combs scored Whitefield’s final run in the seventh off a two-out throwing error.
Bailey Combs never pitched to more than four batters after facing six in the first inning.
“Typically, I don’t really get going until the second or third inning, once I get all of my pitches and I’m hitting my spots,” he said. “I got through the lineup one time and saw what they can do. Going through the rest of the game, I knew how to pitch to the rest of them.”
Jake DePiero had two hits for Walker.
Eikost allowed four earned runs on six hits in five innings. Mudge gave up two runs — one earned — on two hits in the sixth, while Blake Whiting allowed had an unearned run in the seventh.
“That’s the Bailey Combs that I know,” Walker coach Mike Brady said. “He was right on. He’s going to battle and he’s going to throw outside corner, and he did that. Unfortunately, we didn’t put the barrel on it like we did (Monday in a win over King’s Ridge).
“I hate losing a subregion game. Losing a region game doesn’t bother me, but losing a subregion game does. (Whitefield’s) a good team. I think our defense hurt us more than anything. Too many little errors, too many little mistakes. They capitalized when they could.”