LAFAYETTE — Having a handful of hits and base runners gave no guarantee of success on Friday afternoon at Lafayette High.
Barbe right fielder Marshall Alexander threw out two base runners and made a diving catch for the final out, as fifth-seeded Barbe hung on for a 3-2 win over Lafayette in a Class 5A quarterfinal baseball playoff game.
“Marshall was outstanding ... he has a plus arm, and he’s accurate,” Barbe coach Glenn Cecchini said. “When you have the 4 and 5 (seeded) teams — two teams that are going to compete and are hard-nosed — it’s going to be a battle. It’s going to take that to win. It was a great game. Both teams played outstanding.”
The teams will meet for Game 2 of the best-of-three series at noon Saturday. If a third game is necessary, it will follow right after the first game.
The separation on the scoreboard in the opener came in the top of the sixth inning. With the score even at 2, Barbe catcher Hunter Feduccia led off the inning with a single to left. Pinch runner Alex Goree stole second, moved to third on a bloop single and scored on a bunt by Tanner Littleton.
The Lions had Emile Lege at first with two out in the sixth, when he tried to advance to third on a Ben Reynolds single to right. Alexander threw out Lege to end that threat.
“We hit some balls hard, but we have to hit them where they ain’t,” Lafayette coach Sam Taulli said. “Alexander had a great day and throws two guys out.”
The Lions managed one more rally in the seventh when Rafael Barahona drew a leadoff walk and pinch runner Andrew Lege later moved to second on a passed ball. Barbe closer Brant McNease got the final two outs on a strikeout and the liner to Alexander to end the game.
“We just have to do whatever it takes to win a state championship,” Alexander said.
Lafayette scored first in the first inning when Antoine Duplantis singled to left on an 0-2 pitch, went to second on a balk and scored on a bunt single by catcher Cain Castille. Barbe evened the score on a Slate Fuller’ solo homer. The teams traded runs during the middle innings. Addison Armand doubled in the third inning to drive in Alexander. Branson Audette’s bunt scored Reynolds in the fifth for Lafayette.
Cecchini called the victory a positive step, but he also stressed the reality of the Bucs having unfinished business. “(Adam) Goree pitched great and (Bo) Hardin pitched great (for Lafayette),” Cecchini said. “We have to win two and there was no dogpile (Friday).”
Fuller finished 2-for 3 with the homer for Barbe (29-9). Duplantis was 2-for-3 with a run scored for the Lions (26-9).
For Lafayette, there is the necessity of not trying to over-reach to make up ground.
“We have to realize we can’t win both games at once and just focus on what is at hand,” Taulli said. “It’s an elimination game, so it’s put up or go home.”