McNeil leads Comets past Rebels

Published 11:45 pm Friday, March 15, 2013



LUTCHER – The main driving force behind St. Charles Catholic’s 7-0 win over rival Riverside on the opening day of the Lutcher baseball tournament was clear, and if it weren’t, both St. Charles coach Paul Waguespack and Riverside coach Matt White wasted no time letting it be known in the postgame.

Comets pitcher Chad McNeil was simply dominant.

McNeil pitched a complete game shutout, striking out 10 along the way. He allowed four hits and walked two. All the while, he helped his own cause at the plate, going 4 for 4 with two RBIs and a double.

“He dominated today,” said Waguespack. “I don’t throw that word around, I don’t say it many times. We threw almost nothing but fastball today. Then he goes 4 for 4 at the plate. It all starts with him. As Chad goes, we go.”

Said White, “When McNeil’s dominant like he was today, there’s not all that much you can do. It’s like the old saying goes, if you can’t score, you can’t win.”

McNeil (3-1) threw 85 pitches in his seven innings of work. 58 of them were strikes.

“When you execute, when you throw strikes, you’ve got a chance to keep winning games,” said Waguespack.

McNeil said he was particularly ready for the challenge.

“I’ve been waiting for this game for awhile,” said McNeil. “It’s always a good game with this rivalry, and I always want the ball in a big game. I came out to perform to my ability.”

Austin Weber reached base in three of his four at bats, singling and walking twice. He stole two bases, as did Kameron Keller. Mason Bordelon collected two RBIs.

Riverside’s Tanner Lawson took the loss. He pitched six complete innings, allowing eight hits  while walking three. He struck out nine.

Brandon Hymel doubled and walked in three at bats for Riverside (6-8).

The Comets (6-6) slammed the door shut in the sixth inning, extending their lead from 4-0 to 7-0, all action coming with two outs.

It started with a perhaps expected result that came in unexpected fashion. McNeil, already 3 for 3, came to the plate with two outs and laid down a bunt, pushing the ball down the third base line.

McNeil beat out the throw to first, which sailed into foul territory. That allowed him to advance to third base.

“I saw how deep their third basemen was playing me. I’m not a slow guy,” said McNeil. “I thought it was a good way to finish 4 for 4 instead of 3 for 4.”

Added Waguespack, “We didn’t call for a bunt. That was just Chad understanding what we talk about in practice and preparation. That’s what really excites me about him this year. He’s grown up.

“If he swings it there, he’s 3 for 3. I don’t get mad at that. But he made an unselfish decision there.”

That brought Brandon Zimmer up to bat, who shook off his own 0-3 day to that point and socked an RBI single to centerfield, making it 5-0. Luke Poche was hit by a pitch, bringing Mason Bordelon to bat. He singled home two runs to make it 7-0.

Riverside’s best chance to climb back came in the top of the sixth. With two on and two out, Andre Faucheux singled to left. But Brandon Zimmer uncorked a throw to home that beat runner Kameron Bailey at home, Poche applying the tag for the third out.  Bailey had reached on an error and Mason Vicknair on a bunt single prior to Faucheux’s hit.

St. Charles scored two runs in the third inning on first a RBI single by McNeil and then an error on a throw to first on Poche’s ground ball.

“We kicked it around a little bit,” said White. “Sometimes we get that deer in the headlights look. We didn’t last year, but its something we’re having to address so far.”

In the fourth, Weber drew a two out walk, then stole two bases with Keller down to his final strike. Keller knocked in Weber, then stole two bases of his own with McNeil in the same situation. McNeil scored Keller on a base hit.

“That’s how we need to play,” said Waguespack. “We’re a running team. Everyone 1-9 has to be able to bunt. If we execute, we can generate runs like that.”

COMETS WIN THREE OF FOUR At DENHAM SPRINGS TOURNEY – St. Charles put together a strong performance last weekend, besting Denham Springs, Central and Live Oak while falling to Fontainebleau.

SCC’s 1-0 win over Central came via a single score in the seventh inning, as David Bleakley’s sacrifice fly scored Justin Ory (running for Dylan Gilles).

Connor Smith (1-1) pitched a complete game shutout, allowing four hits and walking three. He struck out three.

The win was a milestone for Comets coach Paul Waguespack, who captured his 300th victory as a head coach (see feature on page 7A for more details).

Against Live Oak, the Comets came through in extra innings in similar fashion, scoring two in the ninth inning to come away with a 4-2 victory.

Austin Weber was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, forcing home a go-ahead run in the ninth.

Kameron Keller collected an RBI of his own to plate an insurance run.

Chad McNeil earned the win in relief. He went 2.1 innings and struck out five. Bleakley started the fame and went 6.2 innings, allowing five hits while walking two. He allowed two runs, neither earned, and struck out two.

Weber went 2 for 4 with two RBIs.

Fontainebleau scored six runs over the fifth and sixth innings to top the Comets in the tournament’s third game.

Mason Bordelon went 2 for 2. Luke Poche went 1 for 1 with two walks.

McNeil absorbed his first loss of the season. He went 4.2 innings and allowed two runs, none earned, on four hits and two walks. He struck out seven.

SCC bounced back in its final game to upend host Denham Springs, 3-1.

Bordelon earned a complete game win, allowing one earned run on five hits and a walk. He struck out three, moving his record to 1-1.

Keller went 3-for-3 at the plate. Weber was 2 for 4 with two runs scored. Poche went 2 for 3.