Westbrook loses state title opener to G.W. Long 3-2


Westbrook Christian’s Clay Templeton just misses a catch against G.W. Long during Game 1 of the Class 2A state championship series at Paterson Field in Montgomery on Thursday. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times)


MONTGOMERY — Westbrook Christian baseball coach Matt Kennedy said Mikhail Cazenave ran into a wall while pitching against G.W. Long in the fourth inning.

By the end of game, Kennedy’s entire team had its back against a wall.

The sixth-ranked Warriors fell to the No. 4 G.W. Long Rebels 3-2 in Game 1 of the Class 2A state championship series Thursday at Paterson Field in Montgomery. The Rebels need just one more win Friday as the series shifts to Riverwalk Stadium, while the Warriors must take two straight for the championship.

What happened in the fourth was the key, as the Rebels scored all three of their runs off Cazenave to take control of the game. Cazenave allowed two walks and a single to load the bases and, after an RBI groundout by G.W. Long’s Josh Rogers, Seth Ivey hit a two-RBI single to center to give the Rebels (31-8) a 3-0 advantage.

“It felt good as a young guy to do something like that and help out,” said Ivey, a sophomore.

No one knew just how big that hit was until the seventh inning. Westbrook’s Jordan McCartney led off by reaching base on an error, and Jonathan Ford followed with an opposite-field RBI triple to get the Warriors on the board. Ford scored on Matthew Reaves’ groundout, but G.W. Long pitcher Garrett Davis retired the next two Westbrook (25-14) batters to seal the win.

The talk following the game surrounded that crucial fourth inning.

“He kind of ran into a wall,” Kennedy said of Cazenave, who allowed just four hits and struck out eight in the loss. “He missed a few spots, and that happens. “Whenever you put a guy on base, they’re going to score. He wasn’t able to execute pitches at that time and they did a good job of being patient.”

Almost too patient, in fact. G.W. Long coach Drew Miller said his team was taking too many pitches and gave the players some simple advice heading into the fourth — “just swing.”

“The more we took (pitches) the worse it got for us,” Miller said. “Uncharacteristically, I think we struck out five times looking, and that’s not good. As the game went on, we got more aggressive. That hit by Seth came at an unbelievable time because it kind of broke it open for us.”

For the rest of the game, it was a pitchers’ duel between Cazenave and Davis.

“Cazenave really was good at the beginning of the game and he was good at the end,” Miller said. “The one thing I heard about the kid is that he really tries to command the zone, and he did a great job of that.”

Davis allowed just four hits and struck out four for the win. He didn’t walk a batter.

“He did a pretty good job of keeping us off-balance,” said senior shortstop Alex Perkins, who went 1 for 3. “He threw strikes. I think, more, we just didn’t do our job at the plate. We didn’t take good approaches and didn’t hit the ball like we should.

“But not taking anything away from him. He threw a great game.”

Davis mainly threw a fastball and curveball.

“That’s what I’ve been throwing all year,” he said. “It really got them today.”

Miller has come to expect these type of performances from his senior ace. Davis, who has pitched three shutouts this postseason, improved his record to 12-2 on the year.

“He’s been a model of consistency for us all year,” Miller said. “We absolutely know what we’re going to get every time he gets up there.”

Miller said getting a victory in Game 1 takes a lot of pressure off his team Friday.

“We know we have two games to win this now, but we’d like to finish it in Game 2 though,” said Miller, who’ll send Tristan Rice (7-2, 1.92 ERA) to the mound Friday. “We have to execute our pitches tomorrow because these guys are really good at the plate.”

Westbrook does know what it’s like to fall behind a game in a series this postseason. The Warriors lost to No. 10 Ranburne 8-3 in the opener of the quarterfinals before recording 11-0 and 5-1 wins to advance.

“We ran into this a couple of weeks ago,” Kennedy said. “That’s why they play a two-out-of-three series. You can adjust and come back the next day.”

Expect Jake Kilgo to take the mound for the Warriors in Game 2.