Two outs from elimination, Lovett rallied to beat Westminster 4-3 in eight innings in Game 2 of the Class AA state championship series Monday to force a third game, which the Lions won 5-2 behind a pitching gem from junior left-hander Mitch Stallings for their seventh state title in baseball.
The Lions (29-10) scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 2 of and plated the game-winner in the eighth to beat Westminster 4-3 and force a deciding Game 3.
In Game 3, the Lions scored three times in the first inning and once in the second, and Stallings made it stand up.
Stallings, who pitched well enough to win in a 2-1 Game 1 loss, was brilliant on two days rest in Game 3, striking out eight while allowing five hits.
Brant Wells’ two-run double highlighted the three-run first for Lovett, and Aaron Schunck’s RBI single in the second made it 4-0.
Lovett scored its final run on a bases-loaded walk to Tyler Shiflett in the seventh.
The Game 2 win was the first for Lovett in five tries against Westminster this season, and their Game 2 win was the fourth time the two teams played a one-run game.
Shiflett’s bases-loaded single with two outs in the eighth tied the series at a game apiece and made a winner of Robbie Baker, who entered the game in the third inning.
Baker escaped a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the top of the fifth, striking out Westminster’s Jake Forte and Robert DeGolian to end that threat.
Baker pitched the final 5 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and walking two while striking out 4, and he retired the last 11 batters he faced and did not allow a run.
Down 3-1 in the seventh, Lovett’s Nick Cancelliere reached on a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Shiflett’s single to left. The ball was misplayed by Westminster left fielder Kyle Murphy, allowing Shiflett to reach third.
Westminster brought in Merritt Huber in relief of starter Cornell, and he got one out before surrendering Grant Haley’s game-tying single through the middle.
Lovett opened the scoring in the first without the benefit of a hit. Haley was hit by a pitch from Westminster starter Conrad Cornell, moved to second on a passed ball and reached third on a groundout by Aaron Schunck. Haley scored on a groudout by Sean Reagan.
Westminster (27-10) took the lead in the top of the third, getting RBI singles from DeGolian and Cornell, and added a run in the third on an RBI double by McLain Bradley.