Fighting Wildcats turn tide on Skippers for 9-6 victory

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 13, 2002


DESTREHAN – The change from the top of the third inning to the bottom, was all the Destrehan High School Fighting Wildcats needed to change the tide of Monday’s Class 5A regional playoff game and rally back from a 6-0 deficit to win 9-6. The playoff victory marks Destrehan’s 18th straight win and the first time for the Fighting Wildcats to travel into the “elite eight” in New Iberia.

The Mandeville High School Skippers (24-5) built an immediate 3-0 lead in the first inning, then a 6-0 lead by the top of the third inning via two three-run home runs. However, the vision of the Fighting Wildcats (24-6) rebounding with four runs in the bottom of the inning to close the gap to 6-4, sent the Skippers into a whirlwind, never to return.

“I don’t know how to say it, you go up six to nothing and slowly but surely they scratched back and get you in a bind,” said Mandeville coach Carey Stockton. Stockton blamed key mistakes at key times for allowing Destrehan to tear down the six-point lead, “but more than that was at 6-0 we stopped hitting the baseball,” he added. “That’s the difference in the game. You’ve got to keep putting them away. It’s been a great year, but little things like that come back to get you every time.”

“They opened the door for us,” said Destrehan coach Marty Luquet.

He said Mandeville’s three errors gave his Fighting Wildcats the opportunity to win.

“I was thinking ‘we are in trouble and things had a chance to get really out of hand,'” said Luquet. “I told them ‘you don’t have to do it in one inning, but you have to score runs.’ The runs in the third inning did breath life into our team and most certainly into the pitcher’s mound.”

The Fighting Wildcats led off with Andrew Lassere on the mound, then switched to Beau Jones for the remaining five innings. Jones gave up only one Mandeville hit after the third inning.

“Once we let them (Destrehan) back, they got into the motions,” said Stockton. “Whether it’s by three or one, we still lost.”

Both teams were scoreless through the fourth and fifth innings, with Destrehan leaving runners stranded in both innings. But with time narrowing down, the Fighting Wildcats’ reinforced their comeback drive, beginning when Fred Smith was handed four straight balls for a walk, then stole second base. The fatal shot came when Destrehan’s Daniel Vitrano bunted the ball, then ran safely to first when the throw glanced off the Mandeville first baseman’s glove and Simon slid across homeplate.

The Skippers brought in Tyler Kimmons to relieve pitcher Nick Tisone, who threw 105 pitches and allowed four earned runs.

Moments later, with only one out, Trey Simon delivered a hit to a deep center field hole to send to runners home and Destrehan into the lead. Stockton chose to “gamble” and walked the next two Destrehan batters, Daniel Luquet and Keith Johnson, for an attempt at a double play to close the inning and Destrehan’s momentum.

The roll of the dice came up snake eyes for the Skippers and two runs for the Fighting Wildcats, when Rustin Rebowe drove in a double to bump their score to 9-6. Mandeville put up three batters in the top of the seventh inning. The first two were thrown out at first, while the final batter saw two strikes, a ball, then a fastball for the out and waves of cheers from the near-record attendance.

“I felt that last pitch was the fastest, hardest and best pitch I had thrown the whole game,” said Jones, who was up in the count 1-2 before delivering the game-ending strike.