Photo: Westbrook Christian’s Andrew Dutton (7) receives congratulations from his brother Samuel after the former’s hit a home run during the Warriors’ sweep of Vincent in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs last Monday (Apr. 22) in Rainbow City. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Bulldog Brothers made short work of Vincent last Monday (Apr. 22).
In the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs, Westbrook Christian pitchers Samuel and Andrew Dutton limited the Yellow Jackets to two hits over 10 innings to lead the Warriors to a 19-0, 13-0 sweep in Rainbow City. Both games ended in the fifth inning via 10-run mercy rule.
Samuel, a sophomore and LSU commitment, tossed a two-hitter in the opener, while Andrew, a junior, threw a perfect game in the nightcap.
The brothers helped their respective causes with three home runs, two of them by Samuel.
“It’s not too hard to win when you’ve got two bulldogs on the mound,” said Westbrook head coach Matt Kennedy. “Those two guys dealt it today. It doesn’t get much better than that on the mound, especially for the first round. We know what we’re getting with Samuel, and Andrew just followed it up very well today.”
The Duttons received ample support, as the Warriors (17-12) torched seven Yellow Jacket pitchers for 29 hits, including 12 for extra bases. Westbrook scored at least one run in eight of the series’ 10 innings and batted around the order four times.
“Our approach at the plate was a lot better today and we were a lot more patient than we have been,” said Kennedy. “When we got pitches that we could handle, we took advantage of it, and that’s what we’re supposed to do.”
Samuel Dutton, who went 5-for-6 with six RBI and three runs scored, attributed his offensive production to good plate discipline.
“I saw the ball really well today and waited for good pitches that I could handle. We played some great teams during the regular season, and that gets us prepared for the playoffs.”
Andrew said that he was not focused on the first perfect game of his varsity career until the third inning.
“That’s when I started thinking about it and I got a little nervous. I went to 2-0 to two hitters in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings but I was able to battle through it. [Westbrook pitching] coach [Brandon] Byars does a really good job of getting me to stay ahead in the count.”
While Samuel Dutton was limiting the Vincent batting order to a pair of singles and two walks while striking out nine in the opener, Westbrook took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first with the help of Samuel Dutton’s triple and RBI base hits by Andrew Dutton and Isaac James.
Samuel Dutton’s two-run dinger in the second made it a five-run advantage, while Andrew Dutton’s RBI double in the third helped the lead to 8-0.
The floodgates opened in the bottom of the fourth, as 16 Warrior batters produced nine hits and 11 runs. James deposited the first pitch he saw over the left-centerfield wall, while Andrew Dutton, Brett Vice and Joseph Gilchrist all had two-run doubles to help end the game on the mercy rule.
In the second game, Andrew Dutton fanned 10 batters and struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth on the way to his no-hit and no-walk gem. Westbrook essentially put the game out of reach in the top of the first with nine runs. Andrew Dutton went yard during the inning, while Cole Patterson stroked a two-run single.
The Warriors were retired in order in the second but tacked on three more runs in the third by way of Samuel Dutton’s two-run home run and James’ RBI single.
In the top of the fourth, Andrew Lockridge tripled and scored on Gilchrist’s sacrifice fly. Andrew Dutton capped his perfect game in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout.
Also at the plate for the Warriors, Gilchrist went 3-for-5 with two RBI and five runs scored; James went 4-for-7 with two RBI and three runs scored; Patterson went 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored; Greysen Robinson had three hits; John Ross Morgan had two hits, an RBI and three runs scored; and Lockridge had two hits and two runs scored.
Westbrook will face either Section or Hatton in the second round beginning this Friday (Apr. 26).
Kennedy pointed to the Warriors’ difficult non-area schedule as a major factor in their recent postseason success.
“We’re not playing a schedule that will give us a good record. We’re worried about preparing for the playoffs, and that’s what we do every year.”