Rebels, Tigers look to capture crown

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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RESERVE — For Riverside senior Grady Gieger, his team’s 9-3 victory Sunday in its quarterfinal game over Menard meant validation.

“Everyone else thought we couldn’t,” said Geiger. “Who’d have thought we’d be 24-9?  We play as a team, better than we ever have.”

Indeed, Riverside is preparing for its first trip to the state baseball tournament since 2006 — incidentally, that journey had a particularly sweet ending, resulting in the Rebels’ 7-4 Class 2A state championship win over Ouachita Christian. The Rebels are set to square off with defending 2A champion Evangel in a state semifinal game Friday night at 7 p.m.

For Gieger and his fellow seniors, a chance to play on the season’s final weekend has been a long time coming. Sunday marked the Rebels’ fourth straight trip to the state quarterfinals and its first win in that stretch. In 2009, Riverside fell at home to Evangel. In 2010, it fell at Curtis and in 2011, it was another loss to Evangel.

“Our seniors have been trying to get past the quarters since we began here,” said senior pitcher Tate Scioneaux. “We wanted it badly enough this time around.

This time, Riverside faces the Eagles again for a chance to advance to the state championship game.

Evangel (24-5) entered the postseason as 2A’s top-seeded team, one that happens to be playing at an even higher level these days than even its strong overall resume would suggest — Evangel has won 17 consecutive games, all by multiple runs. The Eagles defeated Oakdale, Northlake Christian and Runnels to reach the state baseball tournament.

The Eagles have won two of the past three 2A state titles and have played in three of the last four state title games.

“They jumped all over us last year,” said Riverside coach Matt White. “I know Parkview Baptist has only a handful of losses (6), and Evangel’s beaten them three times this season. But the chance to play a team like this, in this spot, is what we work hard for all year.”

Riverside’s banking on the equalizer being Scioneaux, simultaneously an ace pitcher and dominating hitter. White said before the playoffs began that the Rebels planned to ride their lead starter as far as he’d take them, and he’s racked up three postseason wins.

He believes the fourth-seeded Rebels are as good a bet as any to walk away with the crown.

“This team has leadership. It has the motivation. It’s really got everything you could ask for,” said Scioneaux.

The coaching job White has done, of course, cannot be ignored. Not with a team that turned over almost its entire starting lineup from a year ago — Gieger and Scioneaux were the Rebels only fulltime starters.

White credited his players for buying in.

“Their mentality really is a plus,” said White. “They ‘re focused on the daily task at hand and have been all season. We’re excited for Friday night.”


HAHNVILLE VS. RUMMEL — Hahnville entered the Class 5A postseason as the No. 15 seed, but few coaches could have wished to catch these Tigers by the tail.

HHS entered the postseason on a 16-game winning streak — one that’s been extended to 18 after the Tigers defeated Covington and then second-seeded Zachary.

The latter victory came Friday, a 2-1 win that vaulted Hahnville (24-12) to the Class 5A state baseball tournament at Tulane. The Tigers will face Rummel in the state quarterfinals on Friday.

Hahnville’s win over Zachary was keyed in part by pitchers Jake Cologne and Tyler Lamers. They combined for a four-hitter.

Mike Ford and Cody Farrell gave the Tigers’ pitching the run support they needed via Ford’s solo home run in the second inning and Farrell’s RBI double in the third.

Rummel, the 10th seed, defeated Central Lafourche and Fontainebleau en route to the quarterfinals. The Raiders enter with a record of 24-10, and if Hahnville is to win, the game figures to be close: of Rummel’s 10 losses, a staggering eight have been by a single run.

Then again, Hahnville hasn’t played many close ones during this win streak. Aside from Friday’s win over Zachary, coach Kade Rogers’ Tigers have won all but four of their 18 straight wins by three runs or more, including nine by nine runs or more.

If Hahnville can extend that win streak to 21, it would be a fitting swan song for coach Kade Rogers. It is his last season as Tigers’ baseball coach, after accepting the position of St. Charles Parish’s coordinator of safety, security and emergency preparedness.