After pulverizing its district opposition, the St. Mary’s baseball team finally didn’t have a walk in the park when it arrived in postseason, but the Tigers prevailed in a highly competitive three-game LHSAA Division IV playoff series with visiting St. Frederick’s over the weekend.
Starting with a comeback 4-3 victory Friday, the Tigers overcame a 2-0 second-game defeat Saturday and roared into the playoff quarterfinal round with a 6-1 triumph.
Fourth-seeded St. Mary’s (28-6) will host No. 5 Catholic-Pointe Coupee in a best-of-three series at Cracker Brown Field in the east Natchitoches recreation complex. The opening game is Thursday at 6, followed Friday by the second game at 4, and if necessary, the third contest at about 7 o’clock Friday evening. The winning team advances to the state tournament the following week in Sulphur.
In Friday evening’s opening win, Patrick Vienne fired a complete game and the Tigers overcame a 3-0 deficit with a four-run sixth inning, fueled by five singles. St. Fred’s did its damage softly, said Tigers’ coach Brooks McMinn, with “dink after dink” singles off the SMHS ace, who mowed down the hitters in the seventh to nail down the dramatic victory.
In a matchup of freshmen pitchers in the second game, St. Mary’s Ethan Busby performed extremely well but the Tigers were plagued by a problem that dogged them all series long, stranding runners on base. They left the sacks loaded in the bottom of the seventh.
The do-or-die finale was tied 1-1 after one, but St. Mary’s rapped hit after hit and rang up four second-inning runs to build a comfortable advantage for pitcher Payne Williams Jr. He scattered six hits and had sound defense around him as the Tigers punched their ticket to the quarterfinal round.
“Our kids fought and fought and fought all series long,” said McMinn. “I was really proud of that. Up or down, they didn’t flinch. I’m hoping these close games should help us prepare for what’s ahead.”