If you like baseball to be fast and efficient, Matt Nixon is your type of pitcher.
The sophomore threw only 77 pitches to complete a three-hit shutout in approximately 90 minutes as Westside defeated Swainsboro 5-0 in Game 1 of the best-of-three Region 3-AAA semifinal series at Westside High School on Thursday.
Westside (18-6) will be at Swainsboro (17-6) for Game 2 on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Swainsboro Recreation Complex. If Game 3 is necessary, it would follow. The winner of this series not only advances to the Region 3-AAA championship game, but to the Class AAA state playoffs as well.
Swainsboro came into the game with 10 players batting above .300 and with more than 30 at-bats this season. The Tigers were batting .398 (231-583) as a team coming into the game.
But they were no match for Nixon (7-0), who tied Lakeside's Rico Bravo for the lead in the area with his seventh win.
"I played it like any other game," Nixon said. "I threw strikes and the defense played good behind me. I was able to get people out when I needed to get them out."
Westside scored the only run Nixon would need in the bottom of the second. Nixon lead off with a walk and pinch-runner Scott Bryant moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tripp Nixon.
Matt Jones would score Tripp Nixon with the game's first run on a RBI-double to left field to give the Patriots a 1-0 lead.
The Patriots would score single tallies in five consecutive innings, 2-6, in posting the win. Tripp Nixon had a RBI-single in the third; Richard Scherer hit a home run in the fourth; Matt Nixon had a RBIdouble in the fifth; and Terry Jackson had a RBI-double in the sixth.
Nixon out-dueled Tiger ace Ron Womack (4-3) for the win. The sophomore only threw 47 pitches in the first five innings that lasted an hour and only allowed two runners to reach second base and only one runner to reach third.
He struck out five and walked two in his complete game performance.
It was his second shutout of the season and the first time that a Swainsboro team averaging more than nine runs per game has been shut out this season.
"Matt Nixon had an outstanding day throwing strikes and making them hit the ball," Westside coach Gerald Barnes said. "Besides one error, our defense was very good today, too."
Womack struck out nine in a losing effort, but he was hurt by two walks and hitting four batters. The senior admitted he was surprised that Nixon was able to shut out him and his teammates.
"I was very surprised," Womack said. "I think we tightened up as a team. We need to relax and play ball. That's the first game that we've had (end) this quick all year."
Tiger coach Hank Aldridge said the Patriots did a better job of playing fundamental baseball than his squad did.
"Westside has a very good team and we got beat by basic baseball," Aldridge said. "We had chances to score runners from second, too, but didn't. Both teams played pretty good, but to me, that was the whole game."
Swainsboro -- 000 000 0 -- 0 3 1
Westside -- 011 111 x -- 5 7 1
Ron Womack (LP, 4-3) and Rhett Womack. Matt Nixon (WP, 7-0) and Michael Cantey. HRs: Richard Scherer (W). 2B: Ron Womack (SW), Matt Jones (W), Matt Nixon (W), Terry Jackson (W).
Leading Hitters: Swainsboro, no one with more than one hit. Westside, Michael Cantey (2-3, 2 Runs). Records: Swainsboro 17-6, Westside 18-6. Next: Westside at Swainsboro, Game 2 and Game 3, if necessary, of Region 3-AAA best-of-three semifinal series, 1 p.m., Saturday, Swainsboro Recreation Complex.
Note: Westside leads 1-0 in best-of-three series.
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