Comets denied title by Parkview Baptist

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 20, 2009


NEW IBERIA — Moments after his team had lost a painful 4-3 decision to Parkview Baptist in the Class 3A championship game, representing St. Charles’ third straight finish as state runner-up, Comets’ senior shortstop Alex Marse was reminded that to reach the game and fall short was better than not making it at all.

Standing nearby, SCC coach Paul Waguespack shook his head with a wry smile.

“Sometimes,” he joked, “I really wonder about that.”

In that moment, nobody could fault the sentiment. Only minutes earlier, Marse’s two-run, seventh-inning double off the fence at Acadian Ballpark had tied the game 3-3 and completely shifted momentum in SCC’s favor.

But Parkview (34-9) had another chance to bat in regulation, and made it count, scoring a run on a Comets’ throwing error to clinch its 11th state championship and its seventh in the last eight years.

Conversely, it was the fourth time in the last nine years for Waguespack and his Comets (27-5).

“I had a real good feeling about today,” Waguespack said. “We had opportunities, but I think we were maybe trying too hard, more than anything.”

Said Marse: “Three years in a row. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be or something…I don’t know.”

SCC’s seventh-inning rally began with one out, when Marc Picciola reached on a misplayed ground ball by the Eagles. James Krawczyk would follow him on, after Parkview pitcher Alex Byo hit him with a pitch.

“We knew we had to keep fighting,” said SCC senior D.J. Wesley. “Coach just said to treat it the same as we did yesterday (in SCC’s comeback win over Notre Dame). We weren’t giving up.”

It drew Eagles coach M.L. Woodruff from the dugout to replace Byo with lefthander Brady Wilson. He struck out Matt Bonnecarre to register the inning’s second out, but that brought Marse to the plate — the same Marse who a day earlier registered the game-winning hit in the semifinals against Notre Dame.

He drilled a pitch to the outfield wall, where it nestled between Acadian Ballpark’s two-staggered fences — ground rules dictate that’s a double.

“I really thought that had won it for us. I thought it bounced and hit the scoreboard (for a home run),” said Waguespack. “They said it didn’t. So what can you do.

“(Parkview) thought it was over (before the seventh inning.) But I thought if Alex got to the plate, we’d win the ballgame.”

Woodruff called on reliever Drew Dileo to record the final out of the inning, which he did on a strikeout of Brady Hitt.

But while the Comets were energized, Parkview quickly answered. James Coats led off the bottom half of the inning with a double. Then Brant Legendre bunted to move courtesy runner Brandon Middleton to third. But Comets pitcher Henri Faucheux fielded the ball and threw wide of first — and Middleton would score the deciding run on the play.

It was the first run of the game allowed by Faucheux, who entered the game in the first inning in relief of starter Brandon Becker. The sophomore lefty allowed just three hits and walked no batters.

“After it happened, I walked over and told him, ‘Son, it ain’t your fault. You kept us in this game. Don’t beat yourself up — you did your job,’” said Waguespack.

Parkview put three runs up in the first inning on two walks and three hits — including RBIs by Dileo, Brooks Godbery and Andrew Reeves — knocking Becker from the game with two outs.

But Faucheux came on and recorded 10 straight outs, all on fly balls, to give SCC a foothold.

The Comets made it 3-1 in the fourth inning, after Becker recorded the Comets’ first hit of the game on a bunt. He advanced on two errant pickoff throws by Byo, and D.J. Wesley would drive him in from third on a ground ball.

From there, it remained a pitcher’s duel until the seventh.

Byo finished having allowed three runs (one earned) on one hit, five walks and two hit batters in 6.1 innings.

“He had dominating stuff today. He pitched a little too fine though,” said Woodruff. “He didn’t want to give up a hit, and he walked a few. But he was able to space them out.”

Wesley said that despite his team never getting over that final championship hump, he leaves St. Charles with no regrets.

“I’m glad I made the decision to come here,” Wesley said. “Coach Wags, Coach Wayne, Coach Mackey, they all helped me so much. And I know they’re gonna keep this thing going here forever and ever.”

ST. CHARLES 5, NOTRE DAME 4 — The Comets rallied from a 4-1 deficit on Saturday, capped by a walk-off RBI single from Marse, to knock off the Pioneers and advance to the final.

Marse came up to bat with the game tied 4-4, after Keith White led off the inning with a walk and Matt Bonnecarre reached on an error to put runners on first and second with no outs. He lined a single into the left-center field gap, and White scored to clinch the win.

“It was a fastball down the middle. I saw it out his hands and I came unglued. My eyes lit up,” said Marse.

Said Waguespack: “I wasn’t about to bunt there. I’m gonna let my best hitter go up and win the game, and he did.”

SCC’s Grant Authement and Notre Dame’s Matt Savoie each homered to leave the teams in a 1-1 tie entering the fourth inning.

It was there that Notre Dame (23-9) did its damage, scoring three runs on two hits, a walk and two uncharacteristic Comet errors.

Waguespack pulled starting pitcher Marc Picciola for Jared Keating, who entered with runners on second and third and no outs. But Keating retired three of the next four batters and let no other runners cross.

“I didn’t really have time to get nervous,” said Keating, who allowed only one hit in four innings of work. “I threw strikes. I felt loose.”

The Comets tied the game in the bottom of the fifth — Authement doubled, Picciola singled and Krawczyk walked to load the bases with no outs. Bonnecarre hit a chopper and reached to drive in a run. Marse hit a sacrifice fly to make it 4-3, and Brady Hitt tied the game with a single. SCC knocked out Pioneer ace Austin Robicheaux in the process.