A year ago, Hays Meyer was a fourth outfielder and a spot pitcher for Westminster. Saturday, he pitched the Wildcats to within a game of their first state championship since 1975.
Meyer, who tossed a no-hitter in his last start against Pepperell, wiggled out of jams in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, beating Lovett 2-1 in the first game of the Class AA state championship series.
Game 2 is scheduled for Monday at 3:30 p.m.
Meyer (11-2) allowed six hits while striking out four, outdueling Lovett left-hander Mitch Stallings.
“I didn’t have all my pitches like I did against Pepperell, but it was pretty close,” Meyer said. “It was a tight zone today and that was really a good thing. It made the game move quicker. I had to rely on my fastball a lot and just throw my curveball for strikes. It was a lot of fun.”
Stallings struck out five and allowed six hits while walking three.
In a game that featured no extra-base hits, the two Atlanta private schools went scoreless through the first three innings before Westminster (27-9) struck first. Merritt Huber’s two-out bloop single to left scored McLain Bradley, who had singled to lead off the inning.
“That kid Stallings is as good a pitcher as there is in the state,” said Westminster coach Russell Wrenn. “He’s just been phenomenal and so difficult. So we had to earn what we got. It was exactly what everyone anticipated, and it was a flare here or there from going the other way.”
Lovett (27-10) tied the game on an RBI single by Mitchell Marino in the top of the fifth.
Westminster regained the lead for good on Rankin Woley’s RBI single in the bottom of the fifth, and from there it was Meyer’s show.
In the sixth, Lovett’s Sean Reagan and Brant Wells eached with consecutive hits, prompting Westminster Wrenn to visit the mound. Meyer responded by getting flyouts from Jackson Lourie and Nick Boden to end the threat, then went 1-2-3 in the seventh to close it out.
“I was getting kind of excited and pretty nervous I guess,” said Meyer. “In the end you’ve got to just throw strikes and good things will happen for you.”