No. 6 Westbrook beats No. 10 Ranburne to gain 2A semis


Westbrook Christian’s Jesse Brittain is out at home on the tag of Ranburne’s Clayton Young. Westbrook defeated Ranburne 11-0 and 5-1 Tuesday after losing the opener in the state high school Class 2A quarterfinal playoff series Friday. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times)


RAINBOW CITY — Westbrook Christian baseball coach Matt Kennedy said that senior Matthew Reaves tapped him on the shoulder after rain delayed the team’s quarterfinal high school baseball state playoff series against Ranburne on Friday and told him, “We’ve got this.”

He was right.

The No. 6 Warriors finished a rain-delayed Game 2 with an 11-0, five inning rout before taking a 5-1 win over the No. 10 Bulldogs in Game 3 Tuesday to advance to the semifinals. Westbrook led 5-0 in the top of the third when Game 2 resumed play.

The Warriors (24-13) host No. 2 Randolph County on Friday.

Kennedy gave credit to his senior class for getting the team ready for Tuesday’s games.

“We have seven seniors on the team and, after Friday night, they could have ducked their heads and said, ‘You know what? They’re better than us.’ But the guys refocused. I said to them, ‘These guys are good, but we’ve seen better pitching than this. We’re prepared for this.’ We did what we had to do.

"Ranburne is a heck of a baseball team. They play a lot like we do. They pitch and play defense. It was a heck of a ballgame between two good teams.”

“We didn’t let Friday phase us,” senior Jordan McCartney said. “We went to work. We kept our heads on straight. Friday was kind of a wake-up call. I knew we were fine.”

In the series’ rubber game, the Warriors got three runs from an unexpected source: the home run. A two-run blast by McCartney and a solo homer by Reaves gave Westbrook all the runs it would need. By McCartney’s estimation, the team has just five homers on the season after Tuesday’s outburst.

“We’re not a power-hitting team,” Reaves said. “We’ll hit singles and doubles, but we’re hitting our stride.”

Reaves’ shot to center in the second inning made it 2-0. McCartney’s homer to left in the third inning gave Westbrook a 5-0 lead.

Jake Kilgo, Blaine Beaird and Reaves combined to make the advantage hold up. Kilgo threw four innings, allowing just two hits in getting the win. Beaird, who also won Game 2, went two innings in relief with just one hit allowed. Reaves went the seventh, giving up three hits and the Bulldogs’ only run.

“It’s really special because we were able to turn it around from the first game,” Beaird said. “We had some momentum (Friday) from the second game and it was crucial that we carried it over. We were able to do that.”

Beaird started Game 2 Friday and finished it off Tuesday. He went all five innings, giving up just three infield singles while fanning a pair.

“I always go out there like it is 0-0,” Beaird said. “Start from scratch, do your best and let the infield and outfield back you up. I’m not a power pitcher, I have to rely on them and we have really good guys in the field. I’m confident because of them.”

Spencer Gibbs took the loss in Game 2 despite not pitching Tuesday.

Kilgo got Westbrook on the board in the first inning of Game 3 with a sacrifice fly. After Reaves’ homer, Beaird scored on a throwing error to make it 3-0.

The Bulldogs (21-8) made things interesting in the seventh. Mark Smith drove home Owen Smith on a single to make it 5-1. Reaves walked Bradley Gibbs to load the bases with one out. However, Reaves got Jared Edwards to hit a grounder, which resulted in a force out at second and Edwards being called out because of runner interference by Gibbs to end the game.

Edwards went four innings and took the loss for Ranburne.

In Game 2, Reaves doubled in the fourth to score McCartney and make it 6-0. Mikhail Cazenave singled to bring in two more runs. Two batters later, Beaird made it 9-0 on an RBI single.

Jonathan Ford finished the scoring with a two-RBI single in the fifth.

“We’re just going to try to prepare the best we can (for Randolph County),” Beaird said. “When the time comes, hopefully we’ll be ready.”