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Austin American-Statesman

Westlake nips Lake Travis in district showdown, but the 26-6A rivals will do it all again

By Colby Gordon,

2023-03-14
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Westlake has made the first strike in the District 26-6A race.

Playing an oddly early Battle of the Lakes series, the Chaps used clutch hitting and pitching from Nathan Duvall and 4⅔ innings of scoreless relief from Joe Sockwell to take a 5-4 win over Lake Travis on Monday night in front of a standing-room only crowd at Westlake High School.

And though it’s only the second district game of the season for both teams and they play again Tuesday night (this time at Lake Travis), handing one of their main rivals for the district crown a loss is something of importance that can’t be overstated for the Chaps.

“This is one we look forward to all year long,” Westlake coach J.T. Blair said. “It was a great team win — and a big win — and after getting behind early, we clawed our way back, had that big inning and pulled out the win.”

Westlake, the American-Statesman’s No. 1 preseason team, scored all five of its runs in the fourth inning to overcome a 3-0 deficit. Following Sage Sanders’ single and Caden Boenig getting hit by a pitch, Ben Longoria’s RBI single put the Chaps on the board, then an infield single by Ty Shapiro loaded the bases.

Braeden Babb drew a walk to drive in a run, and Theo Gillen’s sacrifice fly tied the game and set the scene for Duvall’s heroics.

With two outs and being down 2-1 in the count, Duvall belted a two-run double to center-right field to put the Chaps ahead 5-3.

“He threw me three straight curveballs and once he threw me that third one, I knew it was my pitch and I laced it into the center-gap,” Duvall said. “Seeing our guys rounding the bases and us taking the lead — that feels great.”

Sockwell kept the Cavs at bay through the sixth, scattering three hits and a walk while striking out three and only allowing one runner to reach scoring position.

“I started off getting ahead of batters, and that was big for me,” he said. “I got strikes on the board and just rolled from there.”

In the seventh, Cole Johnson’s run-scoring single following a walk to Dylan Schlotterback and Gavyn Schlotterback’s base hit brought Lake Travis (14-3-2, 1-1) within 5-4, but Duvall came on and retired the next two batters to shut the door.

“I know what I’m there to do — and that’s to throw strikes and get outs,” he said. “We got the two outs and won the game, and it’s a great feeling.”

Dylan Schlotterback’s double highlighted the Cavs’ three-run first inning, as they took advantage of two walks and two errors by Westlake.

It looked like Lake Travis might blow the game open when it loaded the bases with one out in the second, but Sockwell came in and drew an inning-ending double play to end the threat.

“Joe did a great job of holding them and keeping us in the game,” Blair said. “He’s been great all year and we know with our guys, if someone gets nicked up a bit, we can bring somebody else in to get a hold. That’s what we’ve been doing all year, and we did it again tonight.”

Longoria finished 2-for-3 with a triple and Gillen went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk for the Chaps (17-1, 2-0), who would take a serious stranglehold on the district race with a sweep tonight.

“Of course I’d rather play them later on, but the schedule is what the schedule is — we don’t have control over it,” Blair said. “These are big games early on. Both of us have played 15-16 games leading into this, and we feel like we’re playing well right now.”

“This series is awesome,” added Sockwell. “The fans coming out makes it a lot of fun and it’s a great atmosphere.”

Johnson and Greyson Guerin both finished with two hits for the Cavs.

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