Evangel downs Ezekiel to claim ACSC state baseball championship

Published 8:46 am Thursday, April 25, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – The Evangel Christian Lightning capped off ACSC play with a state championship as they took down their rivals the Ezekiel Knights at home at the Evangel Sports Complex for a 6-1 win on Tuesday, April 23 in the ACSC championship game.

The Lightning offense capitalized on scoring chances throughout the game to build out their lead behind a dominant showing from Kemp Swords on the mound.

Swords went the distance across all seven innings and secured 10 strikeouts without allowing an earned run. The Knights only mustered one unearned run, one hit and one walk with Swords on the hill.

The first inning came and went without a run, but Ezekiel got an opportunity to get on the board in the top of the second thanks to an error, and the Knights took it and went up 1-0.

However, Evangel quickly responded in the bottom of the frame. After Will Welch and Kemp Swords stole second and third, a Joshua Looman ground out brought Welch home and tied up the game.

While the next batter struck out, Ben Davis overcame the two-out pressure to hit an RBI single and give the Lightning the 2-1 lead.

Evangel held onto that lead for good and added more runs to it down the stretch to further solidify its victory.

The Lightning added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth off a KC Gables sacrifice fly that capitalized off a lead-off double from Trey Hope to make it a two-run cushion.

In the next inning, Evangel got another scoring opportunity after Swords and Looman were hit by pitches to start the inning, and both Looman and the courtesy runner Cade Joiner advanced into scoring position off stolen bases.

The Lightning suffered a strikeout on the next batter, but Davis loaded up the bases right after that. Ezekiel then continued to have trouble handling its pitches and hit both Hope and Gables to plate a pair of runs and increase Evangel’s lead to 5-1.

With the bases still loaded, an infield fly reduced the Lightning to two outs, but Davis came home shortly after for the final run of the game to make the score 6-1.

From there, Swords orchestrated a one-two-three top of the seventh to cap off a complete-game performance and seal the championship for Evangel.

Gables finished the game with a game-high two RBI. Hope went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI and Zac Grossman went 2-for-4 to give the Lightning a pair of multi-hit games.