G.W. Long only found one inning of success against Westbrook Christian ace Mikhail Cazenave. But with Garrett Davis on the hill for the Rebels, that was all they needed.
Davis pitched six innings of two-hit, shutout ball before holding off the Warriors’ seventh-inning rally to post a 3-2 victory in the opening game of the Class 2A championship series at Paterson Field on Thursday.
G.W. Long (31-8) and Westbrook Christian (25-14) renew the series at 10 a.m. today at Riverwalk Stadium. A third game, if necessary, will immediately follow.
Davis (12-2) wasn’t perfect, but he was close. He gave up back-to-back hits in the seventh that allowed a pair of runs, but otherwise held the Warriors in check by striking out four and walking none in pitching a complete game.
“My arm felt good,” he said. “I haven’t been feeling good last week and some of this week, but my arm felt good today and adrenalin took over. It was just fastball-curveball, that’s what I’ve thrown all year, and it really got them today. They couldn’t hit it as well as I thought they’d be able to. I knew they had some good bats, and we really kept them off balance.”
The senior surrendered a hit to Jake Kilgo in the first but retired the next two batters on groundouts and gave up another single in the second to Alex Perkins, who was thrown out trying to steal second.
“He did a pretty good job of keeping us off balance,” Perkins said. “He didn’t walk a lot of guys and threw strikes, but I just think we didn’t do our job at the plate. We didn’t take good approaches, didn’t hit the ball like we should. Not to take anything from him, he threw a great game.”
After Jordan McCartney bounced an infield single over Davis’ head in the seventh, the senior ran into a little trouble when Jonathan Ford drilled a pitch over right fielder Tristan Rice’s head for a triple, but settled down to record the final three outs to preserve the victory.
“He’s been a model of consistency for us all year,” said G.W. Long coach Drew Miller. “We know what we’re going to get every time he gets up there. The worst feeling about this for me is to know he threw seven innings, and he’s never going to throw for me again.”
Mikhail Cazenave (10-3) was just as impressive, holding the Rebels to four hits while striking out eight. But all three of his walks came in the fourth inning and two of those ended up scoring. Davis had a single between walks to Trey Welding and Calab Coaker, and Josh Rogers followed with a groundout that scored Welding. Seth Ivey then drilled the next pitch into the right center-field gap to score two more runs to give the Rebels a 3-0 lead.
“Cazenave was really good at the beginning of the game, and he was good at the end,” Miller said. “I would love to have him on my team. In the fourth, I think the only approach we had was to swing your way out of it because the more we took, the worse it got for us. Uncharacteristically, I think we struck out five times looking, and that’s not good. That hit by Seth came at an unbelievable time because it kind of broke it open for us.”
Now, Westbrook will have to win twice today to prevent G.W. Long from winning its 13th state baseball championship.
“We ran into this a couple of weeks ago at Ranburne,” Westbrook Christian coach Matt Kennedy said. “That’s why they play a two-out-of-three series. You can adjust and come back the next day. Hopefully, we’ll make some adjustments at the plate, and we’ll figure out the best way to pitch those guys and hopefully keep them off base.”
If not, the Rebels will be celebrating their first state championship since 2005.
“We’ve still got to finish the job, we’ve still got one more game to win,” Davis said, “but if we get it done, there’s going to be a great feeling around the city of Skipperville. It’s going to be big, and it’s going to be great for the school. I think it’ll carry over the next couple of years.”