From Staff Reports
HOLLANDALE – Following East Webster's playoff series against Hollandale-Simmons on Saturday, Wolverines head coach Wes Johnson confessed he didn't anticipate things to be as difficult as they turned out to be.
Nonetheless, Johnson and his East Webster team pulled through on Saturday and earned a trip to the second round of the Class 2A playoffs against Region 3 winner Strayhorn.
Following a 5-1 win at home over Hollandale-Simmons on Friday, East Webster had two chances to clinch the series with a victory Saturday. As things turned out, the Wolverines needed both shots.
The Blue Devils captured Saturday's first game 7-6, tying the best-of-three playoff series at one game apiece.
Though it wasn't without difficulty, East Webster bounced back to claim the final game of the series 12-6 to advance.
"It was a struggle," said Johnson. "Everything about the trip (to Hollandale-Simmons) was a struggle. We had a lot working against us. It was one of those deals where the wind was blowing in at about 35 miles per hour and it was all just a struggle."
Over the course of Saturday's two contests, East Webster pounded out 21 total hits as opposed to Hollandale-Simmons' 10.
That didn't stop the Blue Devils from nearly upending the Wolverines.
"We just couldn't bunch a whole lot of our hits together," said Johnson.
Hollandale-Simmons used a last-inning rally to surge past East Webster to force a series-deciding game.
With the Wolverines up 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh, the Blue Devils pushed across a pair of runs for the win.
Codie Silver took the pitching loss for East Webster in a complete-game effort.
Austin Seawright and Hayden Hendrix each had two hits in defeat.
In the final game, Conner Burton earned the win for the Wolverines and Ty Hendrix came on in relief to hold down Hollandale-Simmons.
The Blue Devils pulled ahead 5-1 early in the contest before the East Webster offense came alive late to salvage the victory.
Pacing the Wolverines offense in the finale was Nich Morrow and Brennan Sparks with three hits apiece.
Burton had two hits of his own.
Saturday's events pushed East Webster's record to 17-6 ahead of Friday's series-opening game against Strayhorn in Sarah.
Strayhorn will come to Cumberland for the second game of the second-round series on Saturday.
If necessary, a third game would be played Monday in Sarah.
Johnson says he doesn't know much about Strayhorn, but is anticipating another challenge.
"They're division winners," said Johnson. "I don't know how good they are, but they are bound to be pretty good if they won their division."