Keating leads SCC past Curtis

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 6, 2011



LAPLACE — St. Charles coach Paul Waguespack minced no words after his team’s decisive 10-3 Class 2A regional playoff win over John Curtis, a team that defeated the Comets in two of their three meetings this year.

“We wanted them. Those losses left a bad taste in our mouths,” said Waguespack. “But we washed it out today.”

The District 9-2A champion Comets got a career-best 13 strikeouts from starter Jared Keating and led from the first inning on in the victory, which sets up a quarterfinal clash between No. 3 seeded SCC (24-11) and No. 6 seeded Dunham (26-4) to determine who will advance to the Class 2A state baseball tournament in Shreveport next weekend.

That game is scheduled for Monday at 4 p.m. at St. Charles.

In the previous three meetings between St. Charles and John Curtis, 84 combined runs were scored: SCC lost 12-9 and 13-12 at Curtis while beating the Patriots in LaPlace, 24-14.

But Keating, SCC’s ace, was extremely effective in three appearances against JCC. He started, pitched only two innings in the 24-14 win as the Comets built a substantial lead early. He pitched three innings of effective relief in the final game of the series.

In all, Keating struck out 22 Curtis batters in 13 innings this season.

“He’s our ace, and we’re gonna ride him,” said Waguespack of his senior. “He’s a guy that pitched in the state championship for me when he was a freshman. I thought for a second today about pulling him, but I thought he’d be okay. And he finished it out for us.”

Keating said he felt confident entering the game and that he and his teammates came in with something to prove after the regular season series.

“Each one of us came in with a chip on our shoulder. We were ready to come out and prove ourselves all over again,” said Keating. “I definitely felt good today. I knew I’d do well, but I also knew (Curtis) wouldn’t give up, so we had to finish.”

After Keating retired JCC in order in the first inning, Jeffrey Hall jumpstarted the Comet bats with a lead off double in the bottom half. He’d advance to third on Luke Poche’s deep fly ball, and Hall would score on a Curtis error on a ball hit by Keating.

St. Charles upped its lead to 6-0 in the second inning, one that began with a leadoff walk drawn by Shane McNeil. Macky Cortez reached when Curtis dropped a fly ball. Brandon Zimmer made the Patriots pay for the error, ripping a shot to the outfield that went for a double and cleared the bases — it was Zimmer’s second key RBI hit in as many playoff games.

“It was almost the exact same situation as the St. Thomas Aquinas game,” said Waguespack. “He’s a guy that’s gotten his chance to start recently and he’s taking full advantage.”

Hall collected an RBI on a groundout to make it 5-0 after Donnie Savoie bunted his way on. Hall scored his second run of the game when Curtis pitcher Brandon Naumann was errant on a pickoff attempt to first, allowing Hall to come home from third.

Curtis had an answer in the third inning. After walking Britt Salomon, Keating allowed his first hit of the game to Evan Hilman — it was a home run blast to right field that cut the SCC lead to four.

“It was my fault,” said Waguespack. “I told Jared as much. I called for a changeup, with a freshman at the plate, and gave him a chance to hit it.”

It wouldn’t come back to bite the Comets, who got those runs back in the bottom of the third. Cortez singled with one out and Chad McNeil lined another into center. Zimmer pushed both runners over on a groundout. Cortez scored on a passed ball to make it 7-2. Savoie walked, and the Comets scored their eighth run on a double steal when McNeil took home, after Curtis sniffed out and stopped the same play an inning earlier.

Poche added an RBI double in the sixth and Ahmani Martin — running for Poche —scored on a passed ball.

David Wheelin knocked in an RBI on a single for Curtis in the seventh, but Keating struck out three batters in the inning to end Curtis’ season.

Despite the earlier games with JCC, Waguespack didn’t expect another slugfest.

“I was surprised when we got the five runs in the second. I thought if we got two, we’d be fine,” said Waguespack.

“With the kid I’ve got on the mound, I feel like we can beat anyone.”