The last time Drew Colvin pitched in a state championship baseball game the Lions coughed up a 4-1 lead and lost a decisive third game, and the title, to Latta.
Colvin’s second finals start went a little, no, it went a lot better. The senior pitched a complete game, stifling Lake View in a 4-2 win for Lewisville (24-5) in the opening game of the 1A baseball state championship Saturday evening.
“This was a bunch of ours’ last games here so I knew we had to come out and play big tonight,” said Colvin, whose team will not return to Richburg the rest of the series.
It’s been 30 years since Bennie McMurray’s 1987 Lions beat Lake View in the 1A baseball state championship series. Wild Gators coach Kip Herlong was in the dugout in ‘87, and on Saturday night, and he felt that Lewisville’s slight advantage in state finals experience played a role.
“The pressure on these kids makes it kind of tough sometimes,” he said. “You just hope the pressure is coming from the outside and not from within. And sometimes when it gets tight like that it comes from inside and it’s tough to finish plays.”
Billy Keels’ club scored twice in the third inning and twice in the fifth. Lewisville trailed 1-0 when Alex Reed (2-for-3) smacked a two-run double to the fence in the third, before Quentin Sanders homered in the fifth and Andrew Culp followed with an RBI single several batters later.
The Lions led 4-1 in the top of the seventh when Lake View cranked up the anxiety.
Colvin got 10 batters out in a row, a streak that Justin Elliott ended when he singled. Lewisville’s pitcher fanned another Wild Gator for the second out. But just when it felt like Colvin would ride the momentum to a game-ending strikeout, Lake View (22-4) got Duane Nichols and Stone Spivey on base via Lewisville throwing errors, a run scored, and there was suddenly a very different atmosphere.
But Colvin dug deep and struck out Webb Cardwell to stamp out the visitors’ comeback.
“He was bringing it tonight,” said Keels. “I wish there had been some college coaches there. He was rested and just pumped up for the situation. I think he had something to kind of prove there.”
Sanders and Culp’s run-producing hits in the fifth were crucial for the Lions. They got a little careless throwing to first in the final frame, but the insurance runs meant there was cushion enough to absorb the mistakes.
“Sanders’ homer was big. We were up 2-1 and when he hit that it kind of loosened everyone up a bit,” said Keels. “Then you look what happened in the seventh, I’m really glad he hit that. If we were only up a run when that happened, that could have been a disaster.”
Colvin was sharp, striking out 12 and allowing just four hits and no earned runs, while hitting the upper 80s on the radar gun behind the home backstop. He looked relaxed but focused and there is no question his previous state finals start eased any negative nerves. The lefty explained after the game which pitches worked best.
“Everything. I had a couple of bad pitches but Alex (Reed) blocked them up,” said Colvin. “But other than that, the change-up was looking nice and used the fastball mostly.”
Sanders came through with a vital home run. The junior got under a high fastball and lifted it into the centerfield pine tree stand for his first homer of the year, and third of his career.
“Made me feel like I was putting my team on top,” Sanders said.
Lewisville leadoff hitter Chase Yoder was 2-for-2 with a walk, reaching base each at-bat for the Lions.
The two teams meet again 6 p.m. Tuesday at Lake View. The Lions are seven innings from the school’s seventh baseball state title.