Photo: Westbrook Christian’s Samuel Dutton delivers a pitch during the Warriors’ 11-1 victory over Decatur Heritage in the Class 2A state baseball semifinals on Wednesday, May 8, in Decatur. (Mike Goodson/Messenger)
By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
For the first time in six years, Westbrook Christian will compete in the state championship round of the Class 2A baseball playoffs.
The Warriors (23-12) swept Decatur Heritage Christian Academy, 11-1 and 23-14, on Wednesday, May 8, to earn a berth in the state championship series.
The Warriors will face the winner of the G.W. Long/Thorsby semifinal series this Wednesday, May 15, in game 1 of a best-of-three series at 4 p.m. at Patterson Field in Montgomery. Game 2 and a deciding if-necessary third game is set to begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday at Riverwalk Stadium.
Westbrook returns to the state championship series for the first time since 2013, when the Warriors lost to G.W. Long.
“We came in there knowing about Decatur Heritage’s reputation,” said Westbrook head coach Matt Kennedy. “We know they don’t ever give up. Early in the second game it looked like we were in control, and then suddenly they had the lead.”
Westbrook won Wednesday’s opener game in six innings behind the pitching of sophomore Samuel Dutton, who limited the Eagles to one run on four hits with seven strikeouts and three walks.
“Samuel’s our bulldog and got stronger and stronger as the game went along,” said Kennedy. That’s a good sign going into the championship series.”
Westbrook never looked back after taking a 1-0 lead in the opening frame of game one. The Warriors added three more runs in the second to go up 4-0. Westbrook then put together a six-run sixth inning to end the game on the 10-run mercy rule. The game’s big hit was when Andrew Du-tton crushed a three-run home run to deep right centerfield.
Baker Wilson took the loss for the Lions in Game 1. Decatur Heritage used five different relievers in the loss, keeping each one under 25 pitches in order to be eligible to pitch in case of a Game 3.
At the plate for the Warriors in the opener, Andrew Dutton had three hits, six RBI, and a two-run home run; Joseph Gilchrist had three Hits and four runs scored; Isaac James had two hits; and Samuel Dutton, Cole Patterson and Fisher Glasgow each had a hit.
By contrast, the nightcap took three hours and 40 minutes to play, with Westbrook using four different pitchers and Decatur Heritage six. Westbrook banged out 22 hits while on the way to the nine-run win and the series sweep. Westbrook has scored 117 runs in eight postseason games.
“It was one of those games that took more heart than skill to come out with a victory,” said Kennedy. “It was a matter of will.”
With Decatur Heritage (24-11) as the visiting team in game two, Carter Sam-ple reached on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to give the Eagles a short-lived lead.
Westbrook answered with a three-run homer by Greysen Robinson to take a 3-1 lead. Decatur added a run in the top of the second on a wild pitch by Andrew Dutton, but the Warriors added three more runs in the bottom of the inning on a pair of hits to go up 6-2.
Decatur Heritage plated six runs in the third on four hits to take an 8-6 lead, but Westbrook exploded for se-ven runs on seven hits to lead 13-8 and held the lead from that point on. Westbrook appeared to be on their way to another five-inning game, but the Eagles scored five runs in the top of the fifth to remain alive and cut it to 19-14 before Westbrook scored four runs in the bottom of the inning.
The Warriors tacked on another four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Micaiah Myers, who relieved Andrew Dutton, earned the win.
Six Decatur Heritage pit-chers threw 208 pitches in Game 2. Westbrook used four pitchers for 190 pitches. For the day, the teams combined to throw 657 pit-ches.
Isaac James earned the win on the mound for the Warriors, throwing one and two-third innings in relief, giving up two earned runs on three Hits with three strikeouts and one walk. Brett Vice earned the save in two and one-third innings allowing one run on three hits and one walk while fanning three.
James led the way at the plate for the Warriors with five hits, including a double and five RBI. Greysen Robinson had three hits, five RBI, and a two-run home run; Joseph Gilchrist had three hits with two doubles and three RBI; Samuel Dutton had three hits with a double, an RBI and three runs scored; Glasgow and Patterson each had two hits and an RBI; Andrew Dutton had a hit, and four runs scored; John Ross Morgan had a three-run double; and Lockridge had a hit and two RBI.
“Excitement, joy, thankful,” said Kennedy. “These guys have battled and battled and battled all year. They keep my blood pressure a little high, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
This article was supplemented by al.com.