By Matthew Martin/Sports Correspondent
It is rare to have a huge mismatch in the state playoffs, but Westbrook faced such a situation in the first round of the postseason.
The Warriors blasted Fyffe in the opening series of the Class 2A state high school baseball playoffs last weekend, defeating the Red Devils, 10-0 and 11-0, in the best-of-three series. Both games ended after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Class 2A, No. 6 Westbrook (19-12) had the upper hand from the opening pitch.
“First rounds are always difficult and it gets harder as you go along,” Westbrook head coach Matt Kennedy said. “The main thing for us is playing good defense and pitching and being able to scratch out some runs. I try to get our guys to have an idea, when they go to the plate, what they are trying to do.”
From the first to last pitch, the Warriors simply dominated.
Westbrook was never threatened in the series, using both games to work on some aspects that could help the Warriors down the road in tougher matchups against stronger teams.
In the first game, it was apparent from the start that Westbrook would not be challenged.
Starting pitcher Mikail Cazenave was sharp, working both sides of the plate and keeping Fyffe batters off balance. When he buckled down, he overpowered the Red Devils.
Cazenave threw a complete game, allowing just one hit, a single by Fyffe Cyle Collins in the third inning.
The Warriors jumped on Fyffe early, posting a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Westbrook plated the two runs courtesy of two Red Devils errors.
Jordan McCartney and Jonathan Ford reached base on back-to-back errors. Matthew Reaves followed with a clutch double to score the pair. Both errors and Reaves’ double came with two outs.
The trend continued throughout the entire game, with the Warriors scoring in every inning except the third.
Westbrook scored one run in the second inning, four in the fourth and ended the contest with three runs in the fifth inning.
“We’ve really played like that all year,” Kennedy said. “I’ve got some guys that can hit the ball, that are going to pick up some key hits. We try to do a lot of base running. But really, it comes down to executing on the mound and playing defense. That’s how you are going to win a lot of ballgames.”
McCartney led the Warriors, going 2-for-3, with a double, three RBI and two runs scored.
Alex Perkins also went 2-for-3, driving in one run. He also scored once. Kyle Leonard went 1-for-1, walked twice and scored three runs.
Clay Templeton hit a double, had two RBI and also scored once, while Jake Kilgo scored two runs.
The Warriors continued their hitting barrage in the second game, while Kilgo matched Cazenave pitch-for-pitch in shutting down the Red Devils.
Westbrook again jumped on Fyffe early, knocking three hits and scoring three runs in the first inning.
Perkins opened the game with a single. McCartney walked and Ford singled, to load the bases before Reaves came through with a two-run single. Following a Cazenave walk, Leonard drove in the third run on a groundout.
The Warriors could have blown open the game, but Fyffe starting pitcher Ethan Jones was able to escape with the Warriors stranding two runners on base.
Following a scoreless second inning, Westbrook exploded for five runs in the third, the big hit of the inning coming off the bat of McCartney. He stepped to the plate with the Warriors leading 5-0 and with two runners on base.
The catcher did not leave the runners on base long, blasting a fastball over the left-centerfield fence. The home run extended the Westbrook lead to 8-0.
The Warriors added two runs in the fourth and one more in the fifth inning to end the game.
While the Westbrook bats stayed hot, Kilgo continued the dominant pitching, throwing a complete game, allowing just one hit while walking no Fyffe batters and striking out six.
Adding to his home run and three RBI, McCartney also walked and scored two runs.
“It went according to what we thought,” Kennedy said about the series. “The first game, I was disappointed in our approaches at the plate. But in the second game, we made some adjustments and did what we were supposed to. (We were able to) get our guys some work.”
Also for the Warriors in the second game, Templeton was 3-for-3 with a single, two doubles and a run. Perkins was 2-for-3 with a stolen base, RBI and two runs.
Reaves went 2-for-4 with a single, double and three RBI. Designated hitter Blaine Beaird went 1-for-2 with one RBI and two runs scored.
Westbrook next travels to top-ranked Section for a best-of-three series in the second round.
The series has become almost an annual rite in the spring, with the Warriors and Lions facing each other the last few postseasons.
“Not taking anything away from Fyffe, but the next round it gets tougher,” Kennedy said. “Section is a real good team; I think they are ranked first in the state. I think we have crossed (with Section) the last two years, in the second round, or third round. Hopefully, it will be a good ballgame, a good series, for both of us.”