By Matthew Martin/Sports Correspondent
After coming so close the last four seasons, the Westbrook Christian baseball team will finally get to play in the state championship series.
No. 6 Westbrook embarrassed No. 2 Randolph County, 19-0 and 15-1, in the Class 2A state semifinals last Friday (May 10) to advance to the Class 2A state title series in Montgomery.
After defeating top-ranked Section in the second round of the playoffs, No. 10 Ranburne in the quarterfinals and now No. 2 Randolph County, the Warriors (25-13) face No. 4 G.W. Long in the finals. Game 1 will be played Thursday at 4 p.m. at Patterson Field.
Game 2 is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. at Riverwalk Stadium. If necessary, Game 3 will follow at 1 p.m., also at Riverwalk Stadium, home of the minor-league Montgomery Biscuits. G.W. Long (30-8) advanced to the championship series with 4-3 and 5-0 wins against Mobile Christian (23-14).
“I’ve been trying to do this for a long time,” Westbrook coach Matt Kennedy said of his program finally reaching the state championship series. “It does mean a lot. I’m really proud of the guys. They bought into what we were trying to do and this year’s been a different group. We’ve been close a lot. We haven’t changed our philosophy, we haven’t changed our program at all. We just kept doing the same old thing every year.
“That first year (Westbrook lost in state semifinals) we lost, a couple of us went down and watched (the championship series), just so we’d know what it felt like and now we get to experience it ourselves.”
As for last week’s semifinal series in Rainbow City, the pair of baseball games took on football scores. Led by third baseman Matthew Reaves, Westbrook pounded out 17 hits in Game 1 and 12 hits in the second game.
Reaves went 7-for-8 in the two games, hitting a pair of three-run home runs and a two-run double, with 11 RBI and six runs scored.
“I’m a doubles and singles kind of guy, but this was my last series at home and I wanted to do something kind of big,” Reaves said. “I wasn’t pressing, God just gave me a great ability and He showed Himself to me by doing that.”
In Game 1, Westbrook took a 4-0 lead after the first inning and continued to pour it on from there. The Warriors added one run in the second inning, six in the third and eight more runs in the fourth.
The Warriors got their usual steady, error-free defense behind two sterling performances on the mound from starters Mikhail Cazenave and Jake Kilgo.
Cazenave threw a complete game in the opener, allowing just three hits while striking out four, over the course of a five-inning game shortened by the mercy rule. Combined with Westbrook’s hitting clinic in Game 1, Cazenave’s performance demoralized Randolph County (27-8), who entered the game ranked as one of the best teams in Class 2A.
Kilgo also went the distance in the nightcap, giving up just six hits while fanning three in six innings.
The Warriors offense provided Kilgo plenty of cushion, scoring two runs in the first inning, three in the third, four in the fifth and six runs in the sixth. Kilgo, Jordan McCartney and Alex Perkins each had four hits in the series.
Meanwhile, Randolph County got its lone run in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs. “I struggled for the first four or five innings, but we made a bunch of key defensive plays,” Kilgo said. “We made the routine plays and then made some we weren’t supposed to make. It’s a lot easier knowing I’ve got seven seniors behind me on defense. “It’s really big for me because I’m on the team that finally made it over that fourth-round hump. It’s an overwhelming joy because so many teams play, but only one team will bring it home, and hopefully it’s gonna be the Westbrook Warriors.”