Comets shake off early deficit, best Rebels
Published 11:45 pm Friday, March 21, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — St. Charles Catholic’s Connor Smith roared into his dugout from first base, firing up his teammates and bringing the Comets’ wave of momentum to an apex Thursday.
His two-run single had just netted SCC its first lead of the day, one it would ultimately never relinquish in a 10-6 victory over Riverside at the Lutcher baseball tournament.
Smith collected three RBIs on the day, while fellow senior Connor Western went 3 for 5 with an RBI on a day that SCC trailed Riverside 5-0 in the first inning before rallying.
“This was a rivalry game,” said Smith. “That’s really what it comes down to for this group. All we care about is winning … I got caught up in the moment because I felt like I helped my team get closer to that win.”
St. Charles scored nine runs over the second, third and fourth innings after the Rebels’ hot start.
“We grabbed the momentum, took hold of it,” said Western. “The seniors took charge and woke everyone up. We got our boys together, played hard and came up with some clutch at-bats.”
The game featured a matchup of pitchers who have been off to strong starts this season, with freshman right-hander Mason Vicknair having twirled a no-hitter for Riverside and senior B.J. Waguespack turning in three straight one-hit performances for the Comets (11-1).
But on Thursday, both teams showcased their offensive skills. After the Rebels (2-7) and Vicknair shook free of any damage in the first inning — the Comets had two on with no outs before Vicknair retired the side — the Riverside bats got hot in a hurry.
Vicknair drew a walk with one out to start the surge, then Nick Delaneuville reached on an error. Chase Wallace singled, then Brandon Hymel delivered the big blow, a two-run single to make it 2-0.
After Cameron Bivona walked, T.J. St. Pierre singled home another run to make it 3-0, then Drake Perret grounded out into a fielder’s choice but drove in one more. Kameron Bailey singled home the Rebels’ fifth run, but the Comets tagged out Perret at third to stop the Riverside wave.
“They came out at the start and played like it’s a rivalry game. We didn’t match that intensity level at the start,” said St. Charles coach Wayne Stein. “(Riverside) is a lot better than their record shows and they jumped out on us.”
St. Charles answered with a pair of runs in the top of the second after Eian Mitchell and Western started the frame with back to back singles. Justin Ory and Brandon Klibert delivered consecutive RBI singles with one out to cut the lead to 5-2.
Riverside added a run on in the second inning after a Vicknair single — Jeremiah Berteau scored, courtesy running for Vicknair who singled — but SCC was about to recapture the momentum for good.
Mason Bordelon, Austin Weber and Mitchell loaded the bases with no outs before Western delivered another single, this one plating Bordelon to make it 6-3. Smith came up next, driving a ball to the outfield and another run home on a sacrifice fly. After a Klibert walk, Kameron Keller hit a chopper to second — a Rebels’ error opened the door for two more runs to score and tie the game.
“You could feel the momentum shift right there,” said Riverside coach Matt White. “And with a young team, once you lose that five run lead against a great ballclub, it’s hard to get back up.”
In the fourth, Weber and Mitchell again set the table, each walking before Western singled to load the bases. Smith delivered again, socking a single to bring two more in. St. Charles led 9-6 after Ory drove in another on a suicide squeeze bunt.
The Rebels couldn’t rally from there. Waguespack struck out two in the fourth, then Bordelon came on in relief and turned in three scoreless, hitless innings. SCC tacked on a run in the sixth when Smith scored on a wild pitch.
“We couldn’t get the tying run on deck,” said White. “We didn’t put pressure on them. They put pressure on us, and that wears on you.”
Said Stein, “B.J. settled down, put a couple of zeroes up on the board. Then Mason came in and really shut the door.”
Waguespack moved to 4-0 this season, allowing six runs on eight hits and two walks in four innings.
Bordelon earned his first save of the season, striking out five in three innings.
Vicknair (1-2) allowed 10 runs on 10 hits while walking six.
Justin Ory collected two RBIs for SCC. Tyler Gauthier and T.J. St. Pierre each registered two hits for Riverside.
Western and Smith have been strong sources of offense all season for a high-scoring Comets team.
“We’ve driven in 80 runs this season, and those two have accounted for more than 30 of those,” said Stein. “And that’s from the sixth and seventh spots.’
“They’ve been huge. I couldn’t be happier for those guys to see the rewards of the hard work they’ve put in.”
Riverside will play a double-header today at Lutcher, playing the host Bulldogs at 9 a.m. and then Erath at 11:30 p.m.
The Comets will follow with games at 2 and 4:30 p.m., against Erath and Lutcher respectively.