Evangel sweeps regular-season series with Ezekiel

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

MONTGOMERY – The Evangel Lightning baseball team has locked up the 2019 ACSC regular-season title after taking down Ezekiel 6-2 on the road on Monday, April 1, to complete the regular-season sweep after also beating the conference opponent 6-5 on March 26.

The win came after finishing their own tournament with a 2-1 record, including two consecutive wins to close out the event, which has the team playing with a ton of confidence.

Now 16-4 overall this season, the Lightning will take on Ezekiel again Friday and Saturday, April 19-20, in the ACSC state championship series with the winner of a best-of-three series claiming the title.

So far, Evangel’s only four losses this season have come to AISA top five teams in No. 3 Autauga Academy and No. 4 Bessemer Academy.

In its most recent win against Ezekiel, the Lightning actually fell behind early after the Knights put two runs on the board in the bottom of the second behind a two-RBI single Reid Phaturos.

That 2-0 advantage held up through four innings, as Evangel had put just two baserunners aboard in that time span with only one hit.

That quickly changed in the top of the fifth.

With one out in the inning, Eli Whitfield and Patrick Yaeger hit back-to-back singles to put two runners on base. That was followed by a second out, but the Lightning then put together a two-out rally with three more singles in a row.

The first from Weston Akin loaded the bases, before Dawson Humphries drove in a run with an RBI single. Chase Jones then followed that up with a single on a ground ball that brought home another run before an out was eventually recorded following the run.

Now up 3-2, Evangel had a different composure on the field as Whitfield locked in on the mound.

Over the final five innings in relief, he allowed just five hits and no runs while striking out four to help his team not only gain the lead but sustain it.

Still leading 3-2 heading to the final inning, the Lightning were able to gain some insurance at the plate when a one-out single and back-to-back walks loaded the bases.

That was followed by a groundout from Jones that drove in the first run of the inning, before Yaeger laced a two-RBI single to center field that put Evangel on top 6-2 heading to the bottom of the seventh.

Ezekiel led the bottom half of the inning off with a single, but then three consecutive outs were recorded to close out the 6-2 victory.

Jones had a game-high three RBIs after going 1-for-4 at the plate, while Akin and Humphries both picked up two hits. Humphries also added an RBI and a walk. Yaeger ended the game 1-for-4 with two RBIs.