There would be no first-round playoff disappointment this time around.
After advancing to the Class 5A semifinals in 2012, the Acadiana Wrecking Rams had suffered losses in the opening round in back-to-back years. There was the 1-0 defeat to Jesuit in 2013 and then the 10-0 loss to Sulphur last season.
Behind a strong pitching performance by Derek Boutin, No. 13 Acadiana defeated No. 20 St. Amant 7-2 in the opening-round game at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field on Tuesday.
Acadiana will face No. 4 Lafayette, a 2-1 winner over No. 29 East Ascension, in the best-of-three series in the regional round.
“It feels awesome due to the fact that we were 10-run ruled in the first round last year,” Acadiana’s John Joslin said. “Being able to come out here and win in the first round is a relief.”
Acadiana (20-11) struck first in the bottom of the third inning.
Alex Courtier led off with an infield single and was joined on the base paths by Brandon Duhon, who reached on an error.
Ethan Bellman laid down a sacrifice bunt toward third base, which moved both runners into scoring position.
Joslin, who struck out in the first inning, then tripled off St. Amant’s Hayden Mallory. Two batters later, Joslin scored on a sacrifice fly by Hill Babineaux.
“I was expecting him to throw something off-speed,” Joslin said of Mallory. “He threw fastballs and splitters to me the first time around. After I fouled out a few fastballs, I just waited for him to throw another fastball.”
After scratching out a run in the fourth, St. Amant (17-14) cut Acadiana’s lead to one run in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Ivan Prejean got on with a double and scored on a double by Brock Gonzales.
The Rams answered in the bottom of the inning with four runs. That would be plenty of enough run support for Boutin, who picked up the win after giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.
“I just wanted to go out with the mentality of throwing strikes,” Boutin said. “I pitched well today, but I have to give my defense a lot of credit. They made some great plays today.”
Acadiana will now focus on the regional series, taking it one game at a time.
“We’ve been preaching about it,” Acadiana coach Jay Hodges said. “The game that day is the most important game.”
“We just need to keep our intensity and focus,” Boutin said. “We just have to stay focused during practice this week and not look past our next game.”