The major league scouts saw what they wanted to see in the first two innings. What they didn't stick around for was Red Bank rallying for a 7-6 win over District 6-AAA rival Central.
Alan Walden, one of two of Red Bank's pro pitching prospects, went two innings and left with a no-hitter but a 4-3 deficit. He was rusty, as one of the dozen-plus scouts phrased it, but the University of Tennessee signee started the day pitching 91 mph and his fastball stayed a consistent 90-plus. He walked four and hit two in the first inning, but never lost his composure despite throwing 49 pitches to get the first three outs. He rebounded with a 13-pitch second inning before a pre-set pitch count forced him out of the game.
"This was his first time on the mound this year, his first time to throw to live hitting," Red Bank coach Bumper Reese said of the right-hander. "The box score will show a four-spot but his velocity was good and his control will come. I was more than satisfied with his effort."
Walden was sidelined in the preseason by a split in his pitching thumb - sustained while fielding ground balls - that took eight stitches, and then by a strained triceps tendon behind his elbow in his pitching arm.
"He could have come back last week, but why rush it?" Reese said. "We're just glad to have him back."
One of the batters that got hit took a 94-mph fastball off his helmet. Preston Womack went to his knees but finally got up. He fell twice, though, on his way to first and was taken out of the game by Pounders coach Glen Carter. Womack left and went to the hospital but came back after a concussion check with an all-clear from emergency room doctors.
Hunter Adkins, the Lions' other pro pitching prospect and a signee with Middle Tennessee State, came up with the game's big play, throwing a rope from right field to nail a Central runner who tagged and tried to advance to third.
"That was a big play. It ended the inning with the meat of their order coming up," Reese said.
"I had been sending runners home all night. We're going to be aggressive, I don't care who's out there," Carter said. "We were going to force them to play a play and he made a great throw."
The Pounders went up early. Carter had talked to his team about taking as many pitches as possible, figuring that Walden would be on a short pitch count.
"I didn't count on us scoring four, and that was big for us," he said. "But then our pitchers had trouble keeping the ball down and Red Bank was hitting it."
Jeremy Bales came on in relief of Walden and pitched the final five innings to pick up his third win without a loss.