Rebels, Comets rally to advance to semifinals

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016

LaPlace — They were hundreds of miles apart Saturday, but the Riverside Academy and St. Charles Catholic baseball teams punched their tickets to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 2A State Tournament at about roughly the same time and in dramatic fashions.

After winning its game against No. 3 seed Ouachita Christian 5-2 Friday in Monroe, No. 6 seed Riverside sealed the deal Saturday with Jordan Loving’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to win 2-1.

No. 2 seed St. Charles, which defeated No. 7 Holy Savior Menard 6-4 Friday, rallied from a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 win in eight innings.

Just moments after the Rebels mobbed Loving at Ouachita Christian’s home plate, the Comets had a dogpile celebration on their own pitcher’s mound.

Now they will get to play each other — again — at 1 p.m. Friday in the Class 2A semifinals at McMurry Park in Sulphur. It will be the fourth meeting of the District 12-2A co-champions this season.

“Believe it or not, it wasn’t pretty, but we practiced the dog pile in the morning,” St. Charles coach Wayne Stein said. “I just wanted them to know what it was going to feel like.”

Said sophomore Lloyd Nash, who came through with several key plays to fuel the win, the practice wasn’t close to the reality.

“Oh it was much better,” Nash said. “It was a lot more fun than practice.”

It was glorious for Comets’ fans who had to sweat it out for a while. As the home team in Game 2, Menard took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, stretched it to 2-0 in the fourth and added another run in the bottom of the sixth on a solo home run by John Roy.

Comets fans were starting to settle in for a long afternoon when their team rallied in the top of the seventh. Trevor Arceneaux led off with a walk and pinch-hitter Brandon Lemoine singled. Nash doubled to left center field and took third on an error to cut the lead to 3-2. He scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at 3.

Nash came through again when he drove a bases loaded single in the eighth to put the Comets ahead 4-3.

He then made diving catch in foul territory for the first out of the inning.

Roy scared everyone with a tremendous triple deep to center field, but the next batter hit a grounder to Zach Roussel at third. In a heads-up move, Roussel raced back to the bag ahead of Roy for the second out.

After Comets starter Brennan Gilberti walked Jonathan Levasseur, coach Wayne Stein called for Evan Pfister to close. He threw one pitch before catcher Brady Newman picked off Levasseur at first.

“I knew I was struggling,” Nash said. “I just had to find a way to get on base. I just found the gap.”

Friday’s game was not nearly as suspenseful. The Comets jumped to a 3-0 lead and never let the Eagles score more than one run per inning.

Roussel pitched a complete game, allowing 11 hits and striking out four and walking one — all with a tooth still slightly loose from last week’s series against Sterlington.

Roussel, playing third, took a grounder to the mouth in the first game of the series and lost a tooth.

Justin Loupe led the Comets’ offense Friday, knocking three hits, including a pair of singles and a fifth-inning double.

Nick Scioneaux, Justin Ory and Newman all had two hits in the game.

There wasn’t nearly as much action Saturday in Monroe as Loving was in a pitcher’s duel with Ouachita Christian’s Ty O’Neal.

The game was scoreless through five innings until Loving allowed a pair of singles and walked one. Loving got out of a bases-loaded jam, however.

Playing as the home team, Riverside waited until the bottom of the seventh for its dramatics. Mason Vicknair led with a walk.

Then, with one out, Loving sent a 1-0 pitch just over the left centerfield fence.

“I just kind of had a good feeling about it,” Loving said. “I was going up there looking for a fastball, something to drive. I was able to put a good swing on it and it went over left center.”

Loving said he doesn’t remember much after that.

“I just remember slapping helmets and a bunch of people and just getting mobbed by my teammates,” he said. “It was pretty special.”

Friday’s victory had less drama as Vicknair pitched a 1-hitter, allowed one earned run, walked six and struck out seven in a complete game effort. He also drove in three runs with a fifth-inning home run.

“I know I had some butterflies for sure,” Vicknair said. “I was a little nervous but I knew once I got through the first inning everything would be fine.”