Eagles capture historic victory

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / April 29, 2000

RESERVE – Reserve Christian defeated Centerville, 16-6, in the Class B bi- district playoffs Thursday afternoon for the Eagles’ first ever playoff win.

But while it was the first, Reserve Christian coach Tim Byrd said his players want to use it as a stepping stone to their main goal – a state championship.

“These kids don’t come out here to win a game,” Byrd said. “They want to goas far as they can and win a championship. Their ultimate goal is a statechampionship.”Through the first 3 1/2 innings, the Eagles looked like they would have to struggle to get out of the first round. With the score tied at 6 heading intothe bottom of the fourth, Josh Labiche led off the inning by drawing a walk from Centerville starter Jonathon Lightfoot.

Joey King came in to pitch and walked Neal Johnson before striking out Nathan Louque for the first out. Paul Labiche was then hit by a pitch to loadthe bases. Seth Guidry got a run home with a ground out to short and DustinYoung followed with a single to left, scoring Johnson to give the Eagles an 8-6 lead.

Reserve Christian pulled further ahead with four runs in the fifth. MattJackson, who went 3-for-4 in the game to lead all hitters, singled to open the inning and went to second on a wild pitch. Jeremy LeBlanc then reached on anerror to put runners at the corner.

The Eagles then executed the double steal with Jackson scoring on the throw to second. After LeBlanc went to third on a wild pitch and Labiche walked,Johnson brought the run home with a ground out to short.

Louque followed with a walk and again the Eagles executed the double steal as Labiche scored to make it 11-6. Louque went to third on a wild pitch andscored on Paul Labiche’s fly ball to left, giving the Eagles a 12-6 lead.

Reserve Christian scored four more runs in the sixth to end the game with the 10-run rule. Young reached on an error to open the inning and beat King’sthrow to second on Stephen Ford’s bunt back to the mound. Jackson followedwith a run-scoring single through the box, sending Ford to third. LeBlanc thenlaid down a bunt along the third baseline that King could not field, scoring Ford to make it 14-6.

After a walk by Labiche, his fourth of the game, Joey Aufieri came in to pitch for Centerville. Aufieri got Johnson to force Jackson at home on a grounderto third, but Louque came through with a single to right, plating courtesy runner Kevin Phipps and LaBiche for a 16-6 lead.

Reserve Christian had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

Johnson reached on an error and stole second to lead off the inning. Louquefollowed with a single to center to score Johnson for a 1-0 lead. After a walkby Paul Labiche, Guidry lined a single past third base, scoring Louque.

The Eagles made it 3-0 in the bottom of the second as Josh labiche walked with one out, went to third on an errant pickoff throw by Lightfoot and scored on Johnson’s ground out to third.

Reserve Christian starter Jason Coons cruised through the first two innings, retiring six of the seven batters he faced including five on strikeouts. But heran into trouble in the third as Mike LeBlanc led off with a walk and went to second on an errant pickoff throw. Matt Senette followed with a single tocenter to put runners at the corners.

LeBlanc was out at home on the double steal attempt but Jake Bernard followed with a single to right, again putting runners at the corners. AfterBernard stole second Senette scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1. AaronVerdun followed with a single to third, scoring Bernard to cut the deficit to one.

Aufieri lined out to second but King kept the inning alive by drawing a walk.

Roland Gunner reached on an error to score Verdun with the tying run.

Lightfoot then lined a single to left, plating King to give Centerville a 4-3 lead.

Reserve Christian came right back in the bottom of the inning. Paul Labicheand Guidry walked and Young was hit by a pitch to load the bases with none out. Coons then delivered a two-run double to left field to regain the lead forthe Eagles at 5-4.

Jackson followed with a single to left to score Young. Coons also tried toscore but was thrown out at the plate and ejected for running into the catcher. Jackson was thrown out at the plate trying to score on LeBlanc’sgrounder to third to end the inning with the score 6-4.

Centerville tied the score in the top of the fourth against Paul Labiche who had come in to pitch for Coons. LeBlanc and Bernard walked with one out andboth scored on wild pitches an out later. Labiche (6-1) got Aufieri on aground out to second to end the inning and went on to retire the final six batters he faced, including four on strikeouts.

Reserve Christian (12-9) now advances to the regionals Monday where the Eagles will play the winner of the Doyle-Bell City game.

“This was the first playoff win in baseball and it’s a big win for the school,” Byrd said. “We didn’t fold and the character showed. We got the first winand it kind of let’s us focus on what we have to do.”

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