Westwood ace and Georgia Southern signee Douglas Nobles fanned 12 Nathanael Greene batters in a Game 1 win. (Larry G. Williams/Special to The Herald)
CAMILLA — Rust factor?
Not at Westwood, not on the diamond and not in the playoffs.
Westwood’s baseball team showed no signs of being rusty or worried Friday afternoon as the Wildcats swept Nathanael Greene in the Elite 8 round of the GISA Class A playoffs.
Sure, Westwood hadn’t played a game in 10 days, and if you keep up with these kids you know they lost their last two games of the regular season after winning 15 straight before that.
But none of that mattered in the playoffs Friday.
The idea is to march right back to the state title series — where the Wildcats lost to local rival Crisp Academy — and Al Timmerman’s group gave every indication of being ready to make the run with two mercy-rule wins Friday, 12-2 in six innings in Game 1, and 16-0 in four innings in Game 2.
“It didn’t look like (there was any rust),’’ said Timmerman, who watched his team rap out 15 hits in a six-inning win in the opener, including a game-clinching double by his leadoff hitter Mason Worsham, who had three hits and a walk, scored twice and drove in Westwood’s 12th run of the game in the bottom of the sixth.
The Wildcats will now face the winner of the Thomas Jefferson-David Emanuel series next week. — and Timmerman said they’re rooting for TJ.
“If TJ wins, we play here, and if David Emanuel wins, we have to travel,” he said. “So we’ll be keeping a close eye on what happens (today when they play Game 2 and possibly Game 3).”
When the winner of that series gets the scouting report on Westwood, Taylor Classon’s name is going to be circled and written in bold.
Classon, a freshman, went 4-for-4 in the opener with two doubles, then went 2-for-3 in the nightcap. He also scored four times, including the game-ending run, racing home after hitting a one-out double in the sixth.
“I’ve never had a 4-for-4 day,’’ Classon said. “It felt great. Since we’re in the playoffs, I’m more focused.’’
Classon, who bats eighth, led the bottom of the lineup, which sent a message to the teams left in the state tournament. Westwood’s seventh, eighth and ninth hitters — Kaleb Bentley, Classon and Jacques Irvin — combined for six hits, two stolen bases and scored seven runs. Classon’s big day seemed to spark them.
“Taylor’s got a good bat,’’ Timmerman said. “He’s been hitting the ball hard all year but hasn’t found the gaps. He found the gaps (Friday). He had a big game, going (6-for-7 between the two games). Looks like I might have to give him a game ball.’’
Timmerman admitted he didn’t expect to get that kind of production from the bottom of his lineup.
“You can find some unexpected things in the playoffs, like a freshman going 4-for-4,’’ Timmerman said. “The top of our lineup has been doing it all year, so it was really nice to see (the bottom of the lineup) hit like that. (Classon’s performance) was kind of unexpected. You expected Douglas Nobles to pitch well, but you didn’t expect that.’’
Nobles, who signed with Georgia Southern before the season, stopped Nathanael Greene on four hits and struck out 12, including striking out the side in the sixth before Classon and Worsham delivered the big hits to end it.
The Wildcats (17-3) had even less trouble in the second game.
Caleb Morrell not only picked up the win by striking out 11 and allowed just two hits, but in the top of the first inning he blasted a three-run homer to kick off the eventual rout.
‘That was a big boost to start like that, being the visiting team in the second game,” Timmerman said.
Morrell later added a double and finished with five RBI, while J.T. Edore smacked a homer of his own during an eight-run second inning that put the game out of reach. Worsham contributed three hits — two of which were doubles — and Nobles added two hits.