St. Charles nabs sixth runner-up trophy

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, May 18, 2016

SULPHUR — There are no thrill rides at McMurry Park in Sulphur, but St. John the Baptist Parish baseball fans certainly felt the highs and lows of a roller coaster ride last weekend.

Besides the excitement over the parish’s two Class 2A teams, Riverside Academy and St. Charles Catholic, advancing to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s annual State Tournament, local fans got the thrill of seeing them play each other — again — in the semifinals.

Catcher Brady Newman heads back behind home plate during the championship game following a conference on the mound. (Lori Lyons/L’OBSERVATEUR)

Catcher Brady Newman heads back behind home plate during the championship game following a conference on the mound. (Lori Lyons/L’OBSERVATEUR)

Then they got to see a good, old-fashioned pitchers’ duel before the Comets took a 3-0 win and sent half the crowd home unhappy.

Riverside’s Mason Vicknair and St. Charles’ Zach Roussel delivered masterful performances.

Vicknair held the Comets to two hits — one of them a bunt single. He struck out five and walked five.

Roussel, who didn’t find out until Thursday that he would get the start, threw 70 pitches, striking out eight and walking none as he held the Rebels to three hits. He retired the last 12 batters on 31 pitches, retiring the side in the fifth and the sixth on eight pitches.

“Me and Coach Wayne worked a lot in the bullpen on pitches that didn’t work the last time I threw against them,” Roussel said. “We got them to start working and had success.”

Roussel also got great help from his defense, as the Comets turned a pair of 6-4-3 double plays, from Justin Ory to Zach Weber to Nick Scioneaux.

“Justin Ory made a bunch of incredible plays,” Roussel said. “The outfield, they ran down everything.”

Comets coach Wayne Stein had fudged a bit last week on his starter before eventually deciding on Roussel.

“I knew he was going to compete for us,” Stein said. “He has all year. His numbers aren’t as good as they were last year, but he’s pitched against all of the best teams. I knew the big park was going to be to our advantage.”

St. Charles scored all of its runs in the third inning, sparked by a Riverside error on a grounder by Scioneaux. Roussel bunted for a hit then Lloyd Nash walked to load the bases.

Dane Authement hit a fly ball to right, which scored Nick Lorio, running for Scioneaux.

With two out, Ory was hit by a pitch, then Brady Newman sent a single into right field to score Brandoin Lemoine, running for Roussel, and Nash.

That was all the Comets would need to send No. 6 seed Riverside home and advance to Saturday’s championship game against No. 1 seed St. Thomas Aquinas.

The Comets had fans celebrating after they took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a pair of singles by Scioneaux and Nash, plus a Falcons error.

Nash was thrown out at home trying to score on a bunt by Authement.

The Falcons tied the game in the third on a pair of singles, a walk and a fielder’s choice.

They increased the lead in the fifth with the help of a Comets’ error, a hit batter and a single by Champ Artigues.

While pitcher Brennan Gilberti held the Falcons to five hits, St. Thomas pitcher Alex Egan shut down St. Charles and earned the game’s MVP award.

He allowed four hits, walked none and struck out eight as the Falcons took a 3-1 win and the Class 2A title.

The Comets left with their sixth runner-up trophy in six tries.

“We’ll get one one day,” Stein said. “I guess today wasn’t the day.”