Westbrook advances to state quarterfinals after sweeping Piedmont

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Courtesy of Cherokee County Herald

Westbrook Christian used a six-run inning to close out the first game and a seven-run first inning in the nightcap en route to a 14-1, 12-6 sweep of Piedmont in the second round of the Class 3A state baseball playoffs on Friday (Apr. 29) at PHS.

The ninth-ranked Warriors (24-10) host No. 7 Pisgah in a best-of-three series starting at 5 p.m. on Friday (May 6) with a doubleheader. 

“Our guys took really good approaches at the plate, probably about as well as I’ve seen us do all year,” said Westbrook head coach Matt Kennedy. “A lot of the balls that we hit hard were not at people; they were gap to gap and we drove in runs. After the first inning of both games, it seemed like we had a different mindset in that we were going to take control of the game, and we did. They played like veterans out there instead of like a bunch of sophomores.”

Westbrook had already opened an 8-1 lead against Piedmont ace Taylor Hayes in game 1 when the Warriors sent 11 batters to the plate against reliever Bailey Graves in the fifth. Graves got the first out of the inning, but then the next six batters reached base and scored.

Westbrook pounded out 14 hits in the game, with Tyler Self getting three along with three RBI. Kyle Leonard, Chandler Richards and Cullen Stafford all drove in three runs.

Derrick Baer drove in Piedmont’s lone run with a two-out single in the fourth. It was the Bulldogs’ only hit in five innings off Self, who struck out five while going the distance. 

“Tyler throw the ball really well and executed the game plan perfectly,” said Kennedy. “It’s pretty impressive when you give up only one hit to a team like Piedmont.”

In the nightcap, Easton Kirk’s two-run homer gave Piedmont (21-12) a 2-0 lead in the first, but Westbrook answered with seven in the bottom of the inning. The score was 10-2 after two innings.

The Warriors sent 11 batters to the plate against Bulldog starter Caleb Morrow in the first, with Kyle Edwards’ two-run single and Garrett Kennedy’s two-run double on consecutive at-bats providing the biggest blows.

“That was one of those situations where we didn’t panic,” said Matt Kennedy. “I think it kind of shock [Piedmont] because we’ve been dominated by them over the past few years.”

Garrett Kennedy pitched five innings for the win, with Troy Bearden earning the save. 

Edwards drove in four runs on two hits.

“The one thing that we’ve emphasized to our guys this year is hitting pitches that we can handle,” said Matt Kennedy. “It can change from week to week, but we had very good plate discipline (against Piedmont). I want our guys to continue to focus on what we’re trying to do and not worry about what our opponent might do.” 

Publisher/Editor Chris McCarthy contributed to this article. 

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