By Chris McCarthy/Editor
After outscoring the opposition 85-15 over the first four rounds of the high school baseball postseason, Westbrook Christian finally ran into a pitching staff capable of holding the Warrior offense in check.
Westbrook suffered a sweep at the hands of G.W. Long in the best-of-three Class 2A state championship series in Montgomery, losing 3-2 in Game 1 on Thursday (May 16) and 5-0 at Riverwalk Stadium on Friday (May 17). It was the Skipperville squad’s 13th state baseball championship and the first since 2005.
Westbrook (25-15) managed only eight hits for the series, including just one for extra bases.
The Rebels (32-8) totaled 10 in the deciding Game 2. Westbrook had runners on third base three times over the first two innings in that game, but failed to score.
“[G.W. Long] was able to execute plays, and we didn’t,” said Westbrook head coach Matt Kennedy. “We thought when we went into this [series] that it was to be a pitching and defensive duel, and sure enough, it it was. My guys battled the best they could; we just came up a little short. I’m real proud of our guys. Regardless of the outcome today, we had a great run and a great season.”
In seven innings in Game 2, G.W. Long starter Tristan Rice scattered four hits and three walks while striking out four. He benefited from a sharp double play in the top of the fifth inning and a spectacular diving catch by leftfielder Stetson Payne in the sixth that denied Clay Templeton an extra base hit.
“Tristan doesn’t throw really hard, but he kept us off-balance,” said Kennedy. “That’s what pitchers are supposed to do, deceive hitters, and he did a great job of doing that today.
“Coach [Drew] Miller had a good scouting report and he did a job of figuring out how he wanted to pitch to the holes in our swings. It all goes back to a pitcher hitting his spots and being deceptive and changing eye levels, and on the offensive side taking good approaches at the plate. Neither one worked for us, and it worked real well for them.”
As the visiting team, the Rebels took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on Garrett Davis’ RBI single.
The Warriors had runners on first and third in the bottom of the inning, but Rice recorded a strikeout to end the threat.
Mikhail Cazenave led off the Warrior second with a single. He eventually made it to third base before Rice sent down the next three batters.
That turned out to be the last time that Westbrook advanced past second base.
G.W. Long took a 2-0 lead in the third when Davis doubled home Ivey.
The Rebels big inning came in the fourth, when respective RBI doubles from Payne and Ivey plated three more runs for a 5-0 Long advantage.
A double play ended a Westbrook opportunity in the fourth, and Rice sent the Warriors down in order in the fifth and seventh innings.
Jake Kilgo went three innings for Westbrook, allowing five hits, one earned run and one walk.
Alex Perkins, Jordan McCartney, Jonathan Ford and Reaves each had a single for Westbrook.
Series MVP Garrett Davis went 2-for-3 with a double and RBI. Ivey and Josh Rogers also had two hits each.
“Obviously it hurts a lot when you get al the way here and you watch the other team dog-pile and grab that blue trophy,” said Perkins. “We’re definitely not disappointed about our season but we are disappointed in the outcome today. [G.W. Long] did the little things they had to do to win, and we didn’t. But we’re building on the tradition at Westbrook and we got over the semifinal hump.”
Cazenave came through with a solid start in Game 1. In six innings, he allowed four hits and three walks while striking out eight. He kept the Rebels at bay until the bottom of the fourth, when G.W. Long pushed across three runs off three hits.
Cazenave retired the final six batters he faced, however, giving Westbrook an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh.
McCartney’s leadoff single was followed by a triple from Ford, scoring pinch runner Jesse Brittain. Ford then scored on an RBI groundout by Matthew Reaves, drawing the Warriors within a run.
That was as close as Westbrook would get, as Long starter Garrett Davis sealed the win with a strikeout and a flyout.
In seven innings, Davis scattered four hits while fanning four and walking none.
Perkins and Kilgo had the other hits for the Warriors.
“During [Game 2], I told our boys to turn around and look at all of our fans in the stands,” said Kennedy. “We had so much support, from the school and the community and former players to guys I’ve coached. I want to thank all the fans for coming down and supporting us.”