LAFAYETTE — It wasn’t easy by any stretch, but top-seeded Central Catholic survived the pressure applied by Grand Lake to advance to the 1A state quarterfinals with a 5-3 win at Louisiana-Lafayette’s M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
“Everybody I talked to said they were really scrappy and very well coached,” Central Catholic coach Tyler Jensen said. “Those guys are like a bunch of gnats that won’t go away, and every time you turn around they’re right there.
“I anticipated a really close baseball game, and it went a lot like I thought.”
The difference Monday was that the Eagles (24-4) cashed in on the Hornets mistakes.
Grand Lake (22-8) committed three errors in the game and Central Catholic turned them into five runs.
After the Hornets struck first with a run in the first inning, the Eagles came back to take the lead on No. 9 hitter Adam Dupuis’ two-run double to right field in the second. That was set up by an error in left field when Grand Lake’s Joey Cavalaski lost track of Gregory Leger’s fly ball.
“Adam understands his role, and that’s probably the biggest thing with a lot of our guys,” Jensen said. “They understand who they are, and they understand their limitations and what they can and can’t do. He stepped up real big for us.”
Grand Lake wouldn’t go away, though. Despite picking up just three hits against Leger, they made the Eagles starter work deep in counts before making things happen on the base paths.
The Hornets tied the game in the fourth inning despite the fact that they didn’t get a hit and the Eagles didn’t commit an error in the inning.
“That was the goal; to try to put as much pressure on them as possible,” Grand Lake coach Chance Mistric said. “We’ve been really good offensively all year long. We knew we had to try to get them out of their game. They’re good, they’re No. 1 for a reason. We knew we would have to put pressure on them and continue to put pressure on them.”
But the tie game didn’t last long. The Eagles tacked on three more runs in the fifth despite picking up just one hit in the inning after Grand Lake committed two more costly errors.
Grand Lake had one more good shot in the sixth inning, loading the bases with one out, but Eagles reliever Blake Hidalgo entered and limited the damage to one run on an errant pickoff throw.
“Blake’s been pretty solid all year,” Jensen said. “I told him he’s going to be on the mound in the next playoff game against Cedar Creek, and if we get that from him, we’re going to be OK.”
Central Catholic will host No. 9 seed Cedar Creek later this week for an opportunity to advance to the state semifinals.