It was expected to be a dogfight, and it didn’t fail to deliver.
Behind a complete game from pitcher Chris Olivier and a three-hit effort from first baseman Devin Weilbacher, Lakeshore defeated Pearl River 2-1 Friday afternoon to clinch the school’s first outright baseball district championship (8-4A).
“It starts off with strike one when you go out there,” Olivier said. “It allows me to get through some jitters that I experience early in games. But once that is over, I just get out there and do my thing. Then I know my defense has my back and we've got the runs we needed to get the job done.”
A battle between the No. 3 ranked (Lakeshore) and No. 7 (Pearl River) in the latest LHSAA Class 4A power rankings, Pearl River (20-7, 6-3) scored first in the second inning with an unearned run.
Catcher Mark Johnson reached on an error and was sacrificed to third by Christian Kosinksi. Justin Dean’s sacrifice fly one batter later scored Johnson to give the Rebels a 1-0 advantage.
Lakeshore (27-5, 8-1) tied the game an inning later with the all the action coming with two outs. Olivier drew a walk and center fielder Jacob Bernard smacked an RBI triple into right field, scoring Olivier to tie the game 1-1.
The Titans took the lead for good an inning later. Christian Westcott led off the inning with a single and catcher J.T. Singletary was hit by a pitch. Weilbacher then delivered his second hit of the game, an RBI single into left field, scoring Westcott to make it 2-1.
“A great team victory with everyone doing their part,” Weilbacher said. “We got our hits when we needed to. I’m happy we were able to come out on top and capture a district championship. Avenging the loss earlier this week to (Pearl River) and being able to do this at home just makes it that much sweeter.”
Olivier made the two runs stick as he scattered four hits and struck out six while walking one.
“As a pitcher, you like pitching in tight games,” Olivier said. “For me, it’s like I enjoy close games more because there is more of a reason for me to be pitching. You want the ball, and you want your teammates counting on you.”
Both Pearl River and Lakeshore conclude the regular season at home Saturday as the Titans welcome Covington and the Rebels take on Fontainebleau.
Playoff brackets will be announced Sunday.