By Kyle Gregory
Westlake Picayune Contributing Writer
Westlake baseball moved into first place in District 15-5A and cleared a major hurdle its path to an outright championship with a 3-0 shutout of Bowie April 5.
However, the Chaparrals (18-9, 6-2 District 15-5A) couldn’t keep the wins going in a narrow 3-2 loss to Akins the next night out.
Westlake grabbed a 2-1 lead over Akins after the first inning Friday, but didn’t score again as the Eagles took the lead in the third with two runs and never looked back.
In the big win over Bowie, the two teams entered the night tied for first in district with 5-1 records. Bowie had previously handed the Chaps their only district loss back on March 5.
That win resonated with the team and puts them in a good spot to vie for the district title.
“I’m living the dream,” Westlake coach Jeff Montgomery said. “It kinda looked like our guys were getting a little tense over here, but you just tell them, ‘Hey, keep your head level. Get out there and do what we do, make some adjustments at the plate, and that’s what they did. They put the ball in play and started playing some smart baseball.”
The hour and forty-five minute game was a true pitchers’ duel for most of the night. Westlake junior pitcher Paul Kirkpatrick and Bowie sophomore pitcher Kyle Gray and their respective defenses made reaching base at all a victory for both offenses.
Gray retired the first nine consecutive batters that he faced and struck out eight Westlake hitters on the night. He didn’t face more than four batters in an inning until the top of the seventh.
Kirkpatrick was equally dominant, forcing the Bowie hitters into groundouts and pop flies. He only allowed two hits on the night.
“Paul did an excellent job tonight. We pitched them really well,” Montgomery said. “[Gray] really threw well and we stayed up there and watched a lot of pitches. I think if we hadn’t watched a lot of pitches, we’d have done a lot better, but I’m not taking anything away from that guy. He did a great job.”
After three scoreless innings, Westlake put the first run on the board in the top of the second. Tate Shaw doubled in the leadoff spot and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Gordy Taylor. Aaron Black then drove Shaw home with another double and put the Chaps ahead 1-0.
“This team is amazing. Confidence is just spewing out of the guys,” Taylor said. “It just makes it easy. When Tate got on with that double and I sacrificed him over, I knew that we were going to score that run because Aaron was coming up to bat and he’s a machine.”
Bowie managed to escape the inning without any more damage and the pitching battle resumed. Kirkpatrick and Gray continued to deal until the top of the seventh, when Westlake struck again.
Wes Nicol reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on a Bennett Huddleston single. Cory Takenaka drove Nicol home on a single and, capitalizing on some Bowie defensive confusion, reached second while Huddleston moved to third. Alex Cabezas added an insurance run by knocking a deep sacrifice fly to right, scoring Huddleston.
Taylor took over in relief at the bottom of the seventh and shut down Bowie to secure the win.
“It’s always more pressure the less of a lead you have. Those two runs were crucial in letting me settle in and not get so nervous,” Taylor said.
Kirkpatrick pitched six innings, allowing zero runs on two hits. He struck out five with no walks. Taylor pitched one inning with zero runs, two strikeouts and one walk.
“I felt good. It definitely wasn’t as hard as I could throw,” Kirkpatrick said, “but it was reassuring having a good defense behind me. There were a few that I was a little worried on, but I have some pretty fast outfielders.”
Black led the Chaps in hitting, going 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI. Shaw also doubled, while Huddleston and Takenaka each reached on singles. Takenaka and Suarez earned the Chaps other two RBIs.
In what looks to be a tight a District 15-5A race, Thursday night’s win served as both a buffer for the Chaps and a bit of payback, after Bowie won 15-7 in the teams’ previous meeting.
“It was good redemption. The first outing was a little tough, but it was definitely nice getting a little redemption,” Kirkpatrick said.
Westlake travels to face Anderson at Nelson field Tuesday at 5 p.m.
“I don’t think [being in first] changes our attitude at all going into any of the games,” Taylor said. “We still have Lake Travis, Anderson and Austin High and all three of those teams are always pretty good. It’s not going to change our attitude about how we approach our games, but it’s nice knowing that we’re there and that people are recognizing what we’ve accomplished.”
District 15-5A Standings (as of April
Team W L RS RA
Westlake 6 2 56 34
Lake Travis 5 3 33 12
Bowie 5 3 47 25
Austin 4 3 31 23
Anderson 4 3 32 17
Akins 3 5 28 47
Del Valle 0 8 7 71
We welcome your comments on our stories but will publish only those that do not violate our commenting guidelines