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Morris drives in 3 as Riverside advances in playoffs

RESERVE — Calming down those first-game jitters was a chief concern of Riverside coach Frank Cazeaux headed into Thursday’s Class 2A first round home playoff game with Welsh.

Scoring eight early runs solved that right out the chute.

No. 7 seed Riverside led 8-0 after two innings and coasted from there to an 11-1 victory by the 10-run rule in five innings over the 26th seeded Greyhounds, advancing to the second round by extending its 12-game winning streak.   

The Rebels will meet the winner of Friday’s game between No. 10 Calvary Baptist and No. 23 DeQuincy, which was contested after press time.

Riverside’s Brandon Morris went 2 for 2, including a double, with three RBIs to lead the Rebels at the plate.

He said the Rebels’ fast start was no accident.

“We talked before this one about how we couldn’t take (Welsh) lightly,” Morris said. “We knew they were a good ballclub and that they’d be tough to beat. We jumped up on them early and once that happened, we just focused on keeping the lead up and the pressure on.”

Tyler Gauthier and T.J. St. Pierre each drew walks for Riverside to begin their half of the first inning. Mason Vicknair reached on an error and a run scored to make it 1-0. Brandon Hymel dropped a single into right, then Morris came up and doubled home a run to make it 3-0 and chase Welsh starter Caleb Gary from the game.

Caleb Hayes relieved him, but the Rebels kept on the pressure. Jordan Loving’s two run single made it 5-0 before Hayes got a flyball out and the Greyhounds made good on a double-play ball to end the inning.

Riverside was back at it in the fourth inning. Kameron Bailey walked to lead off, then Gauthier was hit by a pitch. St. Pierre’s sacrifice fly scored Bailey. Hymel walked, then Morris hit a two-run single to push the lead to 8-0.

“Brandon’s been hitting the ball really well for us,” Riverside coach Frank Cazeaux said. “He’s been coming along. He just had to get his feet wet, and now he’s playing extremely well, like the (upperclassman) he is.”

Welsh added a run in the fourth, but Riverside answered with two in the bottom half on a pair of errors following walks by Loving and Morris. The Rebels closed it out in the fifth on another Welsh error.

Mason Vicknair and Sean Mohon combined to throw a no-hitter. Vicknair started and went four innings to earn the win, striking out four and walking two.

Riverside has made a habit out of surging in the second half of the season in recent years. Morris says it comes down to attention to detail.

“It’s the little things that count,” Morris said. “We practice like we play.”

Cazeaux quipped that he was simply glad “to play on a dry field on a sunny day,” after two weeks of weather-related scheduling upheaval.

“When we play on this field, we usually play pretty well,” said Cazeaux, whose Rebels have not lost at home this season. “It’s a good atmosphere and we have a lot of support. It’s all we could ask for.”

Riverside has outscored each of its past 12 opponents by at least six runs and has allowed one run or less in each of its past eight games.

The Rebels haven’t allowed more than three runs in any game since March 23, a 9-2 loss at Lutcher.

Ten of Riverside’s 12 consecutive wins have come via the 10-run rule.