St. Charles falls to Ouachita Christian, 7-1, in semis

Published 12:01 am Saturday, May 13, 2017

SULPHUR — Win or lose, the St. Charles Catholic baseball team  had planned to come home  to LaPlace following Thursday’s Division III semifinal in Sulphur.

Of course, the Comets were hoping to make a return trip for today’s championship game.

The No. 2 seed Ouachita Christian  School Eagles dashed those hopes, however, handing the No. 6 seeded Comets a heart-breaking 7-1 loss Thursday afternoon at McMurry Park.

The Eagles also ruined the dreams of St. John the Baptist Parish baseball fans, who were hoping to see the Comets face the Riverside Rebels for the title.

It was not meant to be, though.

The Eagles jumped out to a 5-0 lead on St. Charles, scoring 2 runs in the second inning and 3 in the third.

It was a deficit the Comets could not overcome.

The Comets also could not get around Eagles ace pitcher Ty O’Neal, who held them scoreless through four innings, gave up five hits and struck out seven.

Comets pitcher Evan Pfister gave a noble effort for his team, giving up eight hits and striking out two.

He also was one of five Comets to get a hit, along with Lloyd Nash (a double), Nick Lorio (two hits), Jayce Tamplain and Dustin Mire.

The team just couldn’t get the clutch hits when they were needed most.

Nash led off the game with a double but was left stranded when O’Neal closed the inning with two strike outs. Lorio started the second inning by reaching first base on a throwing error, but he too was left stranded after O’Neal struck out the next three batters.

Comets coach Wayne Stein said his team just didn’t play the way it had been in recent weeks.

“I think we played a little tight,” Stein said. “We didn’t do the things we needed to do. I think we left the bats at home a little bit.”

Nevertheless, Stein said he was nothing less than proud of his team, which returned only one starter — Nash — from last year’s Class 2A runner-up squad.

The Comets beat Riverside in last year’s semifinals, only to lose to St. Thomas Aquinas in the final.

After starting the 2017 campaign 8-8, the Comets  rallied to win 17 of their last 19 games to reach the state tournament for the eighth time.

They  finished 25-11 on the year.

St. Charles has been state baseball runners-up six times, but has never won a baseball state championship.

Stein will lose another eight seniors — quality seniors — this year.

“They may not be the most talented kids around, but they are the hardest workers,” Stein said. “Of all the teams I’ve been around in my 14 years, this one probably worked the hardest. In my short time — I’ve only been doing this 14 years — I think this might be one of my favorite years of coaching. It’s one of the most rewarding.”

Stein stressed that his Comets earned their trip to the state tournament.

“It’s no accident that we were there,” he said. “Nobody gave us anything. We had to work for it. We definitely deserved to be here.

“Don’t feel sorry for us. We got to the tournament back-to-back years. How many players get to say that? There are a lot of teams that never get this chance and would love to be here.”