Photo: Westbrook Christian’s Greyson Robertson slides safely in third base as Etowah’s Will Noles receives the throw during the Warriors’ 4-0 win in high school baseball last Tuesday (Apr. 2) in Rainbow City. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Etowah High baseball team’s potent lineup was no match for the Brothers Dutton last Tuesday (Apr. 2).
The two Westbrook Christian pitchers combined for a no-hitter as the Class 2A No. 10 Warriors (11-9) shut out the 5A No. 4 Blue Devils by a score of 4-0 in Rainbow City.
In six innings Samuel Dutton scattered six walks while striking out eight. Etowah had a runner reach third base three times, and in each instance the sophomore right-hander left the Etowah runner 90 feet from home plate.
Dutton’s finest moment came in the top of the fifth with Westbrook leading 3-0. Following a groundout, Dutton issued three straight walks to load the bases. After a quick visit from assistant coach Brandon Byars, Dutton came through with a strikeout and a flyout to end both the inning and the Blue Devils’ last real threat.
“I just made the adjustments that I had to make,” said Dutton, who committed to LSU last fall. “I obviously didn’t have my best stuff, so I had to get my rhythm going and stay focused and throw strikes.
“I really love playing Etowah,” he added. “They’re a really competitive team that’s fun to play against.”
Head coach Matt Kennedy was impressed with how Dutton dealt with the pressure in that situation.
“That’s mental toughness that you just can’t teach. Samuel just bore down and did what he had to do to get us out of that inning. That’s what we’re getting right now from him as a 10th grader, so I can’t imagine what he’ll be like in a couple of years.”
After allowing a leadoff walk in the top of the seventh, Andrew Dutton retired the next three batters to secure the win.
At the plate for the Warriors, Joseph Gilchrist went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Andrew Dutton and Greyson Robison each went 1-for-3 with two RBI.
“Samuel is a bulldog every time he takes the mound,” said Kennedy. “It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side, he’s going to compete. That’s just his nature. He probably didn’t have his best stuff today, so I’m really proud of how he threw against a great team. It was just a great performance by our pitchers today, and as long as we make plays behind them, we’ll be okay.”
Dutton received all the support he would need in the bottom of the first inning when he was hit by a pitch and pinch runner Fisher Glasgow scored on Andrew Dutton’s RBI single.
Westbrook pushed its lead to three runs in the third when a pair of Etowah errors allowed Gilchrist and Glasgow to score. The Warriors tacked on another run in the fourth when Gilchrist came home on Andrew Dutton’s sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Etowah head coach Brandon Johnson was not pleased that his club went hitless while stranding eight baserunners and committing five fielding errors. In five innings, Blue Devil starter Will Holaten allowed four hits, three earned runs and four walks while fanning six.
“We didn’t do anything well,” he said. “We didn’t pitch well, we didn’t play defense well and we didn’t get a hit. We played like today wasn’t important, and it should have been. [Samuel] Dutton was awesome but we didn’t put up any kind of a fight.”
Kennedy was pleased to get a game in the win column after four straight losses at the Oxford Spring Break Tournament.
“We played some really good teams during that [tournament], but I told our kids that we’re not playing a schedule to win every ball game; we’re playing a schedule to prepare for the playoffs. So right or wrong, I don’t really care what our regular season record is.”