By Chris McCarthy
In the regular season finale for two playoff-bound teams, Etowah posted a 3-0 shutout over Westbrook Christian on Monday (Apr. 17) in Rainbow City.
Nathan Colegrove was the man of the hour for the Class 5A No. 4 Blue Devils (24-6), earning the win on the mound while providing the eventual winning run with a fourth-inning homer. In five innings, Colegrove scattered five hits and one walk while striking out four.
“That’s probably the best he’s thrown in a couple of weeks,” said EHS head coach Larry Foster. “We need that third guy to throw like that. We also had timely hitting against three good pitchers.”
The Warriors (16-12) had runners in scoring position five times, including twice on third base, but the visitors managed to escape trouble.
Westbrook starter Sam Dutton allowed only one hit and four baserunners until the top of the fourth, when Colgrove cleared the left-centerfield wall for a 1-0 lead and his first home run of the season. Dutton left following that inning, fanning five while allowing two hits and one walk.
Respective one-out singles by Andrew Dutton and Garret Kennedy and a walk by Sam Dutton loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth, but Colgrove kept Westbrook at bay by inducing two straight flyouts. In the next inning, the Warriors had runners on second and third with two outs before the Blue Devils got the force-out at second and maintained their one-run advantage.
“We stressed to [Colgrove] that you’d have an inning where you’re going to have to do something special to get out of, and he did that today.”
The Attalla squad made it 2-0 in the sixth when Cade Runyan singled and Carter Dingler scored on Zack Jones’ base hit. Etowah added another insurance run in the seventh on Jacob Bobo’s RBI base hit.
Logan Steele pitched the final two innings for Etowah, allowing two hits and no walks with three strikeouts. Joseph Gilchrist’s leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh went for naught when Steele retired the next three batters to end the game.
“Logan has done a good job all year long in that situation,” said Foster. “He’s always come in and got three to six outs for us. We’ve got a lot of confidence that he’ll go out there and throw the ball in good spots.”
Troy Bearden pitched the fifth and sixth innings for Westbrook, surrendering three hits, one run and no walks with one strikeout. Jordan Reynolds pitched the seventh, fanning one while giving up one hit, one walk and one run.
Noah Parrish and Eli Dunn also had a hit for Etowah.
Gilchrist went 2-for-3 for the Warriors, while Bearden and John Ross Morgan added a hit each.
“We had the bases loaded with our 3, 4 and 5 hitters up and came away empty, and you just can’t do that against a good team like [Etowah],” said Westbrook head coach Matt Kennedy. “I felt that we had the opportunity to win the game on a couple of occasions, but we didn’t execute and Colgrove did a good job. But that’s why we schedule [Etowah] every year, because we want to play against that type of competition.”
Both teams will host in the first round of the AHSAA state playoffs on Friday. Westbrook plays Fyffe in a best-of-three series, while Etowah faces Cleburne County.