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Two-Out Hits Lead Jaguars Past Comets

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / May 18, 1998

BATON ROUGE – Baseball coaches are always talking about hitting in the clutch.

Pope John Paul II did just that in the Class 2A championship game Wednesday night at Episcopal High School, scoring nine two-out runs on their way to a 12-7 victory over St. Charles Catholic.The title was the second straight for the Jaguars (25-8). St. CharlesCatholic completed its season at 22-9.

St. Charles Catholic had an opportunity to jump ahead in the contest in thefirst inning as Ty Monica walked and Jarrett Maurin sent him to third with a single to center to open the inning. John Price then hit a fly ball to leftfielder Matt Lusk.

Lusk caught the ball and made a perfect peg home to get Monica at the plate. Catcher Mike Sanchez came up throwing after tagging out Monica,catching Maurin off first to complete the triple play.

The play switched the momentum to the side of the Jaguars who took full advantage of it in the bottom of the inning. Andrew Pizza led off with awalk against Price and was sacrificed to second by Brady Rodriguez. AfterSanchez struck out, Kyle Hamilton walked and Clint Duffy doubled into the left-center field gap to score Pizza.

Starting pitcher Sean Donnelly followed with a single up the middle, scoring Hamilton and Duffy to give the Jaguars a 3-0 lead. Gus Dussouythen walked and Lusk followed with a bad hop single over first baseman Brandon Laiche to score courtesy runner Stephen Faught. Price made adiving grab of Sam Francis’ pop-up bunt to get out of the inning.

The Comets, who had trailed in each of their last two playoff games, did not let the deficit phase them. Wayne Stein opened the second inning withwalk. Jason Gonzales then grounded to second and both runners were safeas shortstop Mike Hingle dropped Rodriguez’s throw at second.

Steven Faucheux followed with a single to center to load the bases. AfterBrian Horvath struck out, Brandon Laiche lined a triple past Francis in right field, scoring Stein, Gonzales and Faucheux to cut the deficit to 4-3.

The Comets tied the score as Jon Clement grounded to second and Laiche beat the throw from Rodriguez home.

The Jaguars’ bats came alive again in the bottom of the inning. With oneout, Rodriguez singled, Sanchez doubled and Hamilton walked to load the bases. Price struck out Duffy but Donnelly followed with his second two-run single of the game down the right field line, regaining the lead for the Jaguars at 6-4.

Pope John Paul would increase that lead in third. Again with one out, Pizzawalked and went to second on a wild pitch. Rodriguez struck out butSanchez was hit by a pitch and Hamilton walked to load the bases.

Laiche came in to replace Price on the mound and walked Duffy to drive in Pizza. Donnelly followed with a grounder to second. Clement bobbled theball and threw past first as courtesy runner Chad Sabadie and pinch runner Richie Dieudonne scored to give the Jaguars a 9-4 cushion.

The Jaguars continued to add to their lead in the fourth as Lusk led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Francis. Pizza followed witha double into the left field corner, scoring Lusk. Pizza advanced to third onRodriguez’s single to center and came in to score on a wild pitch.

After Sanchez walked, Hamilton singled to left to score Rodriguez and make the score 12-4. Sanchez went to third and Hamilton to second onthrow into the infield.

With the Jaguars one hit away from going 10 up on the Comets, Laiche rallied to strike out Duffy and got Donnelly to ground out to second to end the inning. Laiche would retire the final eight batters he faced, strikingout the side in the fifth.

The Comets attempted one last rally starting in the fifth inning. Price andStein drew walks before Donnelly was replaced on the mound by Jim Lamz.

Gonzales greeted Lamz with a single to center to score Price and Faucheux followed with a ground out to second to bring in Stein. After Gonzalesadvanced to third on a wild pitch, Horvath brought him in with a grounder to first.

Laiche and Clement kept the rally alive by drawing walks from Lamz, but Rodriguez caught Monica’s flare in short right field to end the inning. Lamzthen retired the final six batters to preserve the victory.

Donnelly (10-0) gained the victory, allowing five hits and six walks while striking out four over four innings of work. Price (5-2) took the loss,giving up six hits and six walks while striking out four in 2 2/3 innings.

Comet pitchers walked eight hitters and gave up 10 hits while Jaguar hurlers walked eight and allowed six hits.

“We didn’t throw strikes and we didn’t play defense,” St. Charles Catholiccoach Frank Monica said. “Pitching and defense got us this far but wedidn’t have them tonight.

“I have to give credit to Pope John Paul. They are a class outfit and playedthe whole game with class. They took advantage of our walks. There is nodefense against walks and you just cannot walk that many people.”

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