Comets beat E.D. White for a share of district
Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 20, 2012
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — St. Charles baseball coach Paul Waguespack just smiled, and smiled, then smiled some more. He just couldn’t help it.
“I just love these guys,” said Waguespack. “They’re as much of a team as I’ve ever had.
“There’s just something about this bunch. I don’t know where they’ll take me in the end. But they just find a way to win games.”
On Wednesday, that way was as dramatic as they come.
Luke Poche’s walkoff RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning netted St. Charles its 10th consecutive victory and a share of the District 7-3A championship, 3-2 over E.D. White.
“We like to make it interesting,” said Poche with a smile.
Each team entered the game undefeated in district play. They will split the district title, as E.D. White won a rematch on Thursday, 10-1, in Thibodaux.
After E.D. White starter Scott Szuch retired the first two batters he faced in the final inning, Brandon Zimmer smashed a double to the wall, bringing Poche to the plate. He laced a single up the middle and Zimmer raced home to be mobbed by his Comet teammates.
“He was throwing a lot of first pitch fastballs,” said Poche. “The last time I came up I had hit it hard to center, but they came up with it. I got a good pitch to hit the next time up.”
The Comets (23-6-1, 9-0) are in the midst of a 22 game stretch in which they’re 20-1-1, after starting the season with a record of 3-5. According to Kenram sey.com, as of Thursday afternoon St. Charles was second in the Class 3A power rankings, just behind Parkview Baptist, 33.81-32.22. E.D. White (20-8, 8-1) was ranked seventh.
E.D. White led throughout the game after taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning. St. Charles tied things up in the sixth inning on Jeffrey Hall’s two-RBI double.
SCC’s David Bleakley came on in relief in the sixth inning and pitched 2.1 scoreless innings to earn the win. He moved his record to 7-1 this season, allowed two hits and struck out two, walking none.
“All Dave does is get people out,” said Waguespack. “He’s got an ERA around 1. He just comes out and throws strikes. He does exactly what we need him to do.”
Chad McNeil started and went 5.2 innings, allowing five hits and walking five. He struck out five.
Szush went the complete game and allowed nine hits while walking two. He struck out seven, but took the loss.
The Cardinal jumped out to an early lead in part due to three first inning walks to go along with an infield single by Logan Barbera. Alex Becnel’s drawn walk forced in the game’s first run, and a ground ball by Michael Waguespack turned into an out, but brought home another run to make it 2-0. St. Charles escaped with no further damage when right fielder Nick Montegut came up with the inning’s third out on an impressive diving catch. That 2-0 score held for awhile. The Comets struggled to generate anything against Szuch, who kept the SCC baserunners scattered all day.
On the other side, McNeil settled down and issued no walks and just three baserunners over the next four innings.
“I can’t say enough about the job Chad McNeil did for us today,” said Waguespack. “I was frustrated early. But he hung in and gave us a chance.”
One of the game’s key plays came in the top of the sixth inning, and again, Zimmer was involved. After a walk to Waguespack and a single by Michael Caire, Szuch laced a single that looked to bring Waguespack home; Zimmer threw a laser from left field to Poche, who applied the tag and recorded the out at the plate.
“He came up big for us all day,” said Waguespack of Zimmer. “We’ve thrown eight guys out at the plate this season and that was as big as any.”
The Comets didn’t allow a run, getting out of the jam when Bleakley got a groundout to end the inning.
SCC rode the momentum. Macky Cortez hit an infield single, then Montegut followed with another base hit. That brought up Hall, who socked a double to the gap in right to plate two runs. He’d be thrown out trying to extend a double to a triple, but the game was tied up, 2-2.
“He’d been throwing me a lot of curveballs,” said Hall. “So I knew it was coming. When I saw it, I got a good swing on it … (Szuch) pitched a real good game. We stayed in there and wore him down a little at the end.”
Neither team scored in the seventh, but Poche and Zimmer combined to make sure the game wouldn’t extend past eight innings.
Waguespack pointed out that for his senior class, it is the fourth time in four years it has secured a district crown.
“It feels great to win district, especially in my senior year,” said Hall.
“But,” he added after a pause, “hopefully we’re about to accomplish a lot more from here.”