Red hot Rebels nail down district crown
Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 18, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — After Riverside regrouped from a 3-9 start to win its next seven games, it was obvious the team had improved rapidly. But the Rebels still needed a true litmus test to determining exactly how far they’d come.
Coach Matt White’s team found that test over the past few days, and it didn’t buckle. After dropping a tight 5-4 decision to Brother Martin last Saturday, Riverside captured the District 10-2A championship Wednesday with a 4-2 win over visiting Newman, the Rebels’ eighth win in their last nine games.
Brother Martin is ranked second in Class 5A power points, while Newman is 15th in Class 2A.
The Rebels (11-10, 4-0) won their second district crown in the past three seasons with the win.
Riverside’s Mason Vicknair hit a two-run home run in the first inning and finished with three RBIs. Tyler Gauthier went 3 for 3 with an RBI.
Vicknair also earned the win on the mound, going the complete game and allowing two runs on four hits, three walks and two hit batters. He struck out six.
Riverside defeated Newman (14-8, 2-2) 14-3 on March 27, but the Rebels were determined to not let that affect their focus level.
“We knew they’d be a better team than we saw in the first game,” said Gauthier. “We knew he had to come out here today and play the way we know we can. We put up two early and it gave us a shot of momentum.”
Newman took the lead in the first inning after a rough start to the game by Vicknair, who hit leadoff batter Emile Garon and walked Jay Tyler to put two on with none out. Artney Olivero’s sacrifice fly to deep left plated Garon but Vicknair and his defense held the damage to a single run.
The Greenies’ lead didn’t last long. Gauthier reached on an error to lead off the next inning, then Vicknair hit a towering shot over the left field wall to put RA ahead 2-1 and give himself some run support.
“I was ahead in the count 2-1 there,” said Vicknair. “I was looking for my pitch and when I found it, I drove it out.”
Said White, “Mason came out and struggled a little bit to start the game. To come back and hit a home run, man, that does wonders for a kid, a freshman pitcher. He didn’t have his best stuff today, but he settled down. I think (the home run) helped.”
Newman tied the game in the second on Garon’s two-out RBI single in the second.
That 2-2 score remained until Riverside made its move in the bottom of the fourth, after Jordan Loving hit a bloop single to center. Jeremiah Berteau followed up with a double to nearly the same spot — the ball escaped the glove of diving Greenies centerfielder Garon — and that brought Gauthier to the plate. He’d stroke an RBI single to put Riverside ahead again, and Vicknair lofted a ball to center to score Berteau on a sacrifice fly.
By then, Vicknair had found his rhythm. He retired the side in order in the fifth, then allowed a single baserunner in each of the sixth and seventh innings.
“I was kinda struggling in the first inning. My ball was running on me a little more than usual,” said Vicknair. “I had to settle down and start throwing strikes. As the game went on I started feeling more confident.”
Garon and Jack Miller each went 2 for 3 at the plate for Newman.
Greg Plaisance went the complete game for Newman, taking the loss. He allowed seven hits and walked two while striking out two.
“I told our guys that I had a feeling they’d throw Plaisance this time. He’s a crafty guy who moves the ball around on you,” said White. “He’s not overpowering but he’s effective.”
BROTHER MARTIN 5, RIVERSIDE 4 — Riverside tied Brother Martin after falling behind 4-0 last week, but Daniel Lehare’s walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Gauthier went 2 for 3 with an RBI. Chase Wallace went 2 for 3. Vicknair, Bivona and Berteau each collected an RBI.
Four different Rebel pitchers had appearances in the game, led by Jordan Loving’s three-inning scoreless effort. He walked four and struck out four while allowing no hits.
“We knew that they were the No. 2 team in 5A, and we hung with them,” said Gauthier. “It really opened up some people’s eyes. It made us realize that we can play with anyone.”