Alcovy baseball coach Casey Bates knew pitching would be key to his team’s success in the Class AAAAAA playoffs, and the Tigers validated that claim in a two-game sweep of visiting Westlake Friday.
In game one, Jake Jones pitched 13 strikeouts, allowing four hits in a 2-1 win, and Dalton Reagan allowed four hits in a 6-inning one-run performance in a 13-2 victory in the nightcap.
“If the pitcher throws strikes, we have a chance,” Bates said.
The Tigers managed just four hits in the first game, including a leadoff double by Tristan Payne, who would later score on an error, in the first inning, but Jones made the lack of production a non-factor.
“Jake goes out there and does his job every time he pitches,” Bates said.
Westlake scored on an unearned run in the top of the second, but after that, the Lions weren’t able to get anything going. The closest they came was the top of the fifth, when they tallied half of their hit total for the game.
Montre Boyce led off with a single, and Malcolm Boyce reached on a bunt single, before James Walton was hit by a pitch to load the bases. However, Jones wasn’t rattled and struck out the next two batters, before getting the third straight out on a grounder to the second baseman.
With Westlake’s biggest threat out of the way, Alcovy loaded the bases themselves in the bottom half of the fifth. Dalton Reagan, who reached for Alcovy’s second base runner of the frame, on a fielder’s choice, scored on a sacrifice fly to left field by Nathan Parcel.
Payne’s two hits and one run, led the second-seeded Tigers offensively as Jones and the defense led the way.
The second game started out the same as the first for Alcovy, with its pitcher doing well and its offense not.
Alcovy scored in the first inning, but only after tallying two outs, before Jake Jones scored on an RBI single by Josh Beddington.
Neither team would score again until the fourth inning, after Alcovy tallied three this, notching four runs — again with two outs. Alcovy finished with 11 hits, and every batter scored but one.
“We finally started to hit the ball in the second game,” Bates said. “But we’re still leaving too many on base.”
The Lions were limited to two base runners in the first three innings, before a long fly to center by Thomas Reese landed for the first hit of the game, when Alcovy’s centerfielder slipped en route. Reese went on to score on a single past shortstop from Lorenzon Raglin.
Leading 5-1, the Tigers poured it on from there, getting eight of their 13 hits in the final two innings of the run-ruled shortened six-inning affair.
The Tigers batted around in the fifth inning, starting their five-run effort, again with two outs. Austin Richardson came up with the clutch single, which went under the glove of Westlake’s shortstop. Blake Shope scored on the RBI hit, followed by Marcus Williams touching home when Reagan was hit by a pitch. Richardson scored on a wild pitch to Jones, who delivered later in the at bat. Jones hit a single to center field, scoring Payne and Reagan as part of the three-hit inning.
Alcovy did more damage in the sixth inning, this time tallying three runs on just one hit. It was the first inning of the game, Alcovy scored with less than two outs. With one out and the bases loaded, Reagan walked, bringing home Nathan Parcell.
The very next batter, Payne, walked as well, scoring Jessie Gilbert, who came in for Shope. Richardson finished off the scoring for Alcovy on an RBI fielder’s choice by Reagan.
Richardson, hitting in the ninth spot, finished game two with four RBI and three runs on two hits. Williams and Jones added two hits each, with Jones driving in three runs.
Alcovy will travel to Region 1-AAAAAA seed Lowndes Wednesday with a possible third game in the best-of-three series Thursday.