Billings first baseman Sawyer Hawkins proved on Monday there’s some truth to the old adage that practice makes perfect.
After taking countless curveballs in practice over the past three days, Hawkins was prepared to get a breaking pitch in his first at bat against Purdy, and when it came, he didn’t miss.
Hawkins’ solo home run, along with junior Dawson Meyer’s three-hit shutout, propelled Billings to a 2-0 win over Purdy in the Class 2 sectional.
“We’ve been working a lot on curveballs in practice and he gave me one that was not as good as the ones I’ve been seeing,” Hawkins said. “It was up and away and I just hit it hard.
“It feels great. This is one of the best feelings that I’ve ever had.”
Billings will play today’s Belle-Hartville winner (which was postponed due to rain Monday) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
The Wildcats (13-8) got a big insurance run with two outs in the top of the fifth inning when the team’s leading hitter, senior Austin Essick, drew his third walk of the game, then promptly stole second.
“Essick knew from the first at-bat that he wasn’t going to see a whole lot to swing at,” Billings coach Allen Stolte said. “When he gets on base, he’s probably going to steal second and he has a good chance of stealing third.”
The next hitter, senior Nathan Smith, knocked Essick home from second with an RBI single to right field for a 2-0 lead.
“My first two at-bats weren’t very good, but Stolte kept telling me after every at-bat to believe,” Smith said. “So I went up there with a lot of confidence and ended up coming through.
“That was a huge RBI for our team and it gave our pitcher some extra run support. It felt great.”
Purdy (12-11) was able to get a runner to third base in the first, fourth and seventh innings, but never managed to push a run across against Meyer.
“I thought Dawson dominated on the mound,” Stolte said. “He came out today and just took over.”
Meyer gave up three hits and struck out seven in the complete game shutout.
“This is one of the greatest things I’ve done in life and it feels amazing,” Meyer said.