By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
Westbrook Christian High School head baseball coach Matt Kennedy was a happy camper Saturday (Apr. 18) after his team had completed a two-game sweep over Walter Wellborn in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs in Rainbow City.
The Warriors (14-15) took the first game, 4-3 and the second game, 16-3.
“We were lucky to get these in, the outfield was not its best to say the least,” said Kennedy. “Winning the first round is huge, especially with a young team. I’m blessed to coach these guys; it has been a fun season.”
The Warriors host Piedmont on Friday in the second round.
In the opener, Wellborn leadoff batter Mason Screws lined the first pitch from Tanner Kennedy into centerfield for the game’s first hit.
Two batters later, T.J. Saler doubled in the game’s first run and Wellborn led 1-0. Westbrook tied the score in the bottom of the second with three hits. Tanner Kennedy singled and was thrown out trying to steal second. Tyler Self walked, Cullen Stafford singled and Tyler Pankey drove in the first Warrior run to tie the score at 1-1 after two innings.
The Warriors took the lead in the third inning. Kyle Leonard singled and advanced to second on an errant pick-off attempt, then stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Tanner Kennedy to give Westbrook a 2-1 lead.
Devin Machristie singled to lead off the top of the fourth and advanced to second on a sacrifice fly. A fly ball to second advanced the runner to third, and Jaylon Kelley tied the game at 2-2 with a single.
Westbrook took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth on a base hit by Garret Kennedy and a towering home run by Ethan Campbell.
The Panthers added a run in the seventh on a double by Jaylon Kelley and a single by Blake Hanson.
Tanner Kennedy got the win, pitching seven innings and recording six strikeouts. He walked one batter. Ethan Campbell led the Warriors at the plate with two hits and two RBI.
In the nightcap, Wellborn Panthers take the field as the home team, and the switch proved to be a nightmare for the Calhoun County squad.
Westbrook sent 17 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning while scoring 12 runs against two Wellborn pitchers. Panther starter Ethan Beadles did not record an out while walking the only five batters he faced.
In all, the Warriors received eight walks and one hit batter during the inning to go along with four hits. Tanner Kennedy had a pair of hits and three RBI in the first inning, while
Campbell had two RBI with a double and Tyler Self had one hit and an RBI.
Westbrook added a single run in the third inning on a single by Troy Bearden and a double by Tanner Kennedy.
The Warriors added three more runs in the fourth to make it a 16-0 lead. In the meantime, Tyler Self was pitching a no-hitter, which came to an end in the bottom of the fourth when Machristie hit a long home run.
Wellborn added two consolation runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Tanner Kennedy had three hits and four RBI, while Campbell added three hits, two RBI and three runs scored.
Troy Bearden contributed two hits, two RBI and three runs scored.
Self went the distance for the Warriors, giving up three runs while striking out five and walking one.