Inconsistency has followed the St. Thomas More baseball team this season.
The two-time defending Class 4A state champions have been up and down all season, as the Cougars have fielded a young and at times injured team. The first two days of the annual Atchafalaya Challenge saw STM defeat Live Oak in a 10-run rule game Thursday, then losing a 10-run rule game Friday to Denham Springs.
That inconsistent play continued Saturday at Brother Ephrem Hebert Field as Catholic of Baton Rouge defeated host STM 9-3.
“In the first game that we won, we felt really good about our offense, but you always feel good after a win,” STM coach Gary Perkins said. “We are just not putting it together offensively like we are capable of.”
Catholic-BR jumped out in front in the top of the first inning.
Bears shortstop Josh Smith drew a two-out walk and then advanced to third after Tristen Welch’s double. Smith later score on Daniel Guilbeau’s single.
In the third, Catholic-BR added to its lead by taking advantage of a few STM miscues.
Cole Johnson and Smith reached base after being hit by pitches and moved in scoring position after a fielder’s choice by Welch. Designated hitter Brian Fairbanks knocked in both runners after STM right fielder Ethan Hines was unable to scoop up the hit.
STM junior Hunter Bergeron gave up four runs on four hits with four walks and two hit batsmen in five innings.
Catholic-BR tacked on one run in the fifth, once again after a walk.
“Our problem today is that we walked too many batters and hit too many batters,” Perkins said. “They also made more wind plays than we did.”
Catholic-BR starting pitcher Parker Evans kept STM’s bats in check most the game. Despite four walks and two hit batsmen, Evans gave up only four hits and no runs in 5.1 innings.
“Parks is a tough kid,” Catholic-BR coach Brad Bass said. “Anytime we run him out to the mound we have a chance to win.”
Catholic-BR blew the game open in the top of the seventh as the Bears batted around, picking up five more runs.
“It is real important when you play teams the caliber of STM to keep putting up runs when you have the chance,” Bass said.
STM scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh, but the rally fell short.
While Catholic-BR will wrap up the Challenge on Sunday with rescheduled games against Carencro and then finishing its rain-shortened game against Lafayette, STM will turn its attention to its District 4-4A opener against Opelousas on Tuesday.
“We couldn’t get a hit or more importantly a timely hit,” Perkins said. “We had opportunities to keep it close, and we just didn’t cash in today.”