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CARDIAC ‘CATS COME BACK AGAIN

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / April 29, 1998

RESERVE – East St. John, a team that has had to overcome obstacles allyear long, cleared another one Saturday afternoon, scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat District 6-5A champion Thibodaux, 10-9, in the regular season finale.

East St. John, 14-13 overall, pulled into a second-place tie with SouthLafourche with a 9-5 record in the district. The loss snapped Thibodaux’s13-game winning streak in district play and dropped the Tigers to 21-3 overall.

The Tigers looked like they were going to finish the season undefeated in district play as they took a 9-5 lead into the bottom of the seventh.

Brandon Mason led off the inning by drawing a walk from Thibodaux reliever Seth Hebert who was then replaced by Rickey Grabert.

James Brock greeted Grabert by hitting a slow chopper down the third baseline that stayed inside the bag for a hit. Kent Roussell followed witha single past third that brought in Mason and sent Brock to second.

Randy Sutherland then grounded to shortstop Jacob Naquin who flipped the ball to Carl Trosclair to force Roussell at second. Trosclair relayed theball to first but Sutherland hustled down the line to beat the throw by a step as Brock went to third. Roydell Williams followed with a single toleft to cut the deficit to 9-7.

After Robbie Hebert came in to pitch, Jeremy Mitchell lined a single to right-center for his fifth hit of the day. The ball skipped to the fence asSutherland and Williams came in to score to tie the game and Mitchell raced to third. The Tigers then elected to walk Kerry Watkins to get toSamson Monica, the Wildcats’ leading run producer. Monica delivered onceagain, bouncing a single over Hebert charging in from third as Mitchell came in with the winning run.

“I told the kids that if we keep the game close and keep playing hard we could come back,” East St. John coach David Guillot said.Guillot compared the game to the Wildcats’ previous one against Central Lafourche Thursday, one in which they rallied to win, 22-9, after trailing 9-1. Guillot said coming back and winning those two games were a bigpositive heading into the playoffs.

“The one thing we hadn’t done all year long was win three in a row,” Guillot said. “I told the team that in order to have success in the playoffsyou have to put together a winning streak. (The past two games) showedthat it doesn’t matter what the score, we can come back.”East St. John took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Williamsdoubled off the right field wall and scored as Mitchell bounced a single over short.

Thibodaux bounced back in the top of the second as Monica walked Brandon Arceneaux and Casey Rodrigue to open the inning. Monica picked Arceneauxoff second but gave up a single to Naquin and walked Hebert to load the bases.

Lee Huot followed with another walk to force home Rodrigue and Steven Scrivner popped a single over Watkins’ glove into short center field to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.

East St. John regained the lead in the bottom of the inning as Rousselldoubled to left-center and Sutherland followed with another two-bagger into center. After Hebert relieved starter Stan Martin on the mound and aground out by Williams, Mitchell singled to center to score Sutherland and give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead.

Thibodaux came back again in the third to load the bases with two outs on a double by Grabert, a hit by pitch by Rodrigue and a walk by Hebert. Huotfollowed with a grounder to Watkins, whose throw to first pulled Mitchell off the bag as Grabert scored. Scrivner was hit by a pitch to force inRodrigue, giving Thibodaux a 4-3 advantage.

Monica kept the Tigers in check until the sixth when Ryan Landry grounded to Watkins to lead off the inning. Watkins made a diving stop of the ballbut threw past first, sending Landry to second. Landry scored as Trosclairfollowed with a single to center.

Two outs later, Rodrigue was hit by a pitch and Naquin singled down the third baseline to bring in Trosclair. Hebert followed with a walk beforeBrock came in to relieve Monica on the mound. Brock walked Huot to drivein Rodrigue before getting Scrivner to pop up to third to end the inning.

East St. John cut the deficit to 7-5 in the bottom of the sixth as Brock ledoff with a walk. Williams followed by beating out an infield grounder ascourtesy runner Billy Williams advanced to third. Mitchell then lined asingle off Trosclair’s glove to score Williams. Mitchell would finish theday 5-for-5 with four RBIs.

Walks by Watkins and Monica drove in Williams before Hebert got Jerome Anderson to ground out to end the inning.

Thibodaux got two insurance runs in the top of the seventh as Naquin drove in Trosclair and Grabert with a single to left. Naquin led the Tigers withthree hits and three RBIs.

Brock got the win in relief, improving his record to 5-3 on the season.

Hebert took the loss for the Tigers.

East St. John will play in the state playoffs beginning May 7.

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