Westbrook loses opener against Ranburne, leads 5-0 in delayed Game 2


Westbrook’s Jesse Brittain slides safely into home as Ranburne’s Clayton Young lets the ball get away in Game 1 of the Class 2A best-of-three quarterfinal playoff series in Rainbow City on Friday. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times)


RAINBOW CITY — Mother Nature came out the big winner of Friday’s state high school baseball quarterfinal playoff series between Class 2A, No. 6 Westbrook Christian and No. 10 Ranburne.

After the Bulldogs rallied to win the opener 8-3, the nightcap was delayed until 3 p.m. Saturday because of rain. The Warriors (21-13) led 5-0 in the top of the third inning when the game was called.

Westbrook coach Matt Kennedy acknowledged there sometimes are concerns about a loss of momentum for the team that is leading when a game is delayed.

“It could (affect momentum),” he said. “But I think our guys understand that it is a two-out-of-three series and if you lose the first one, you have to win two in a row. I don’t know if it will affect us, but it may help Ranburne a little bit.”

Blaine Beaird started the second game for the Warriors, and Kennedy anticipates resuming as if nothing had happened.

“Really, it doesn’t change anything,” he said. “Blaine will go back out there. Hopefully, we’ll take the same approach at the plate. It doesn’t really change what we do. We try to do the same thing every time anyway.”

The first game started promising for Westbrook.

The Warriors jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. A walk, single and hit batter quickly loaded the bases. Jonathan Ford singled to bring home two runs. Three batters later, Kyle Leonard hit a sacrifice fly to push the lead to three runs.

Ranburne (21-6) slowly battled back. It picked up two runs in the fourth inning and one in the sixth to tie the game.

In the top of the seventh, the first two runners singled for the Bulldogs. Jared Edwards then lined a double to put Ranburne up 4-3, the first time the Warriors trailed in the 2013 playoffs. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, a fielder’s choice where all runners were safe allowed another run to score to make it 5-3.

Dylan Wiggins followed with arguably the game’s biggest hit, a double to the left-field corner that scored three runs and put the Bulldogs up by five against Westbrook starter Mikhail Cazenave.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Warriors loaded the bases with one out, but Edwards got a strike out and force out to end the game.

After a tough first inning, Edwards settled down. He yielded just five hits over the final six innings to go with 10 strikeouts in the game.

“The Edwards kid threw the ball really well,” Kennedy said. “He had to make some adjustments when we scored three in the first. He pitched very well to our weaknesses.”

Cazenave went all seven innings, allowing 11 hits and five walks while fanning four.

“Mikhail struggled some with location,” Kennedy said. “When you miss against those guys, they can hit it.”

The Warriors jumped on Ranburne starter Spencer Gibbs early in Game 2. Leonard’s sacrifice fly got things going, giving Westbrook a 1-0 lead in the second inning. An error allowed Cazenave to score the Warriors’ second run.

A bad pickoff throw to first by Ranburne catcher Clayton Young plated Alex Perkins for a 3-0 edge. After Jake Kilgo and Jordan McCartney walked, Ford smacked a two-RBI double to extend the lead.

The winner of the series will face No. 2 Randolph County, which swept No. 3 Sheffield on Friday, in the semifinals next week.