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Later Gators...Lewisville wins state title opener 4-2

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By Travis Jenkins

After seeing him pitch six strong innings, Lewisville Coach Billy Keels said Lake View All-State hurler Brent Herlong was absolutely as good as advertised. Of course, so was Keels’s All-State pitcher Drew Colvin.

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Colvin out-dueled Herlong Saturday night in game one of the Class A state title series, as Lewisville won by a 4-2 score.

Colvin retired Lake View in order in the first, but the Lions appeared to have something going in the home half of the frame. Chase Yoder drew a lead-off walk and stole second. As Trey Keels hit a bouncer to second, Yoder got a bit of a late break for third and was cut down. Herlong got the next two batters to keep the game scoreless.

Lake View actually drew first blood, plating a run in the second. Hunter Stevens came up with a one-out single. As he inched away from the bag, he drew a throw from Colvin that was wide of the bag and went to the fence, allowing him to get to second. That brought up Duane Nichols (a Shrine Bowl football player) who struck out, but the third strike got away from Lewisville catcher Alex Reed. The throw to first was clean to get Nichols, but Stevens broke for third and the throw across the diamond bounced away from Andrew Culp, rolled to the fence and Stevens scored. Colvin rallied to strike out the next batter to end the inning.

Again in the second, Lewisville put the lead-off man aboard, with Colvin hitting a double. Braxton Elms sacrificed him to third, but Herlong fanned the next batter and got Jack Jordan to hit a comebacker that he snared for the third out.

Lake View had a chance to build on its lead in the third, with De’Andre Bridgett delivering a solid, two-out single. Nick Collins followed with another single, but Bridgett took a big turn at second, tried to throw out the anchor and fell down. He got caught in a run down and was eventually tagged for the third out of the inning.

In the third, Lewisville finally got on the board, taking a lead it would never relinquish. Yoder had a one-out single but was caught stealing. Trey Keels hit a single, then Culp delivered a sharply hit ball to third that was misplayed, allowing him to reach and bringing up Reed. Reed wasted no time, smoking a double into the gap that scored two runs to make it a 2-1 game.

The Lions padded that advantage in the fifth and did it with one swing of Quentin Sanders’s bat. The junior, leading off the inning, hit a towering shot to center that initially looked like a fly ball out, but it kept carrying and just cleared the fence right over the 350 sign for a home run, his first of the season. Yoder followed that by singling again and Trey Keels bunted him into scoring positions. Culp got him in with a single. Reed had another base hit and a sacrifice fly from Colvin moved both runners into scoring position, but Herlong managed to get a ground ball out to end the frame.

Colvin cruised after the back-to-back hits in the third, sitting down 10 batters in-a-row. That streak ended with an error with one out in the seventh. He struck out the next batter, but back-to-back errors got one run home and put the tying run at second base. The senior never appeared rattled, though. With the game on the line, Colvin struck out the final batter of the night to put his team in the driver’s seat in the best-of-three series.

In his final home game as a Lewisville Lion, Colvin offered up a complete game, allowed no earned runs and only three hits. He struck out 12 batters and did not issue a walk. The key, he said, was to keep his composure no matter what was happening in the game.

“That’s the main thing is don’t be tense,” he said. “You just have to be loose and have fun.”

Billy Keels said Sanders’s solo shot proved to be huge. If the Lions had not had that extra run to play with, he said things might’ve gotten overly stressful when the errors struck in the seventh. Sanders said he really didn’t much care about getting his first homer of the season.

“It just made me feel like I gave our pitcher more runs,” he said.

The Lions were in this exact same position two years ago, beating an all-state, staff ace in game one of the state title series only to drop the next two games. Colvin said he knows how to prevent that from happening again.

“We just need to win the next game,” he said.

Billy Keels said Lake View was a good, well-coached team that had some good at-bats, including in the seventh when they fouled off multiple pitches. He said Herlong (who gave up only three earned runs on eight hits in six innings) throws from a lot of angles, which makes his pitches hard to pick up. The difference, though, was that Colvin had one of his best performances.

“That’s the hardest I’ve seen him throw. He was bringing it tonight. The Division I colleges say the knock is his velocity, but we had a gun on him tonight and he was hitting high 80s,” he said.

The Lions improved to 24-5 with the win, while the Wild Gators fell to 21-4. Lewisville can win its first state title since 2010 with a win Tuesday at Lake View.