It was the one crack in what was still a masterpiece of an outing for Acadiana High School pitcher Derek Boutin.
One hanging curveball to Sulphur’s Austin Nelson in the fourth inning provided the difference between potential extra innings and defeat, something Boutin has come to grips with following the 1-0 setback.
“At this level, you have to be almost perfect to get a victory,” Boutin said. “I enjoy the challenge, being out there. Going against (Mississippi State pitching signee) Kale Breaux was like a boxing match at times. I just want to keep competing like that.”
Four days earlier, Acadiana’s Tanner Broussard gave a similar performance, keeping defending Class 5A state champion Barbe scoreless through six innings.
When Broussard hit a batter and allowed his third hit of the game, Boutin was summoned from the bullpen and the left-hander wrapped up the save with three straight strikeouts in a key 3-0 road victory.
“Tanner just threw a gem and Derek came in and struck out the side,” Acadiana coach Jay Hodges said. “They’ve been outstanding. I hadn’t seen anything like that.”
Hodges was referencing the back-to-back games his two seniors pitched on the road, combining to allow four hits against the reigning state champion in Barbe and state’s No. 1-ranked and once-beaten team in Sulphur.
Together they’ve anchored a pitching staff that’s put together a 1.96 ERA and played a vital role in keeping Acadiana among District 3-5A’s top group.
The Rams (16-9, 7-2), who were rained out Tuesday against Sam Houston (20-9, 5-4), trail league-leaders Sulphur (26-1, 8-1) and Lafayette (19-5, 7-1) with five games to play.
“It’s one thing this year we needed to be a good team, and that was pitching and that’s been there all year long,” Broussard said. “We knew coming in we would have a good team, but we knew everybody else would be go also. We had to go at everybody with the same intensity.”
The tandem of Broussard and Boutin have been the perfect complement for one another: Broussard the crafty right-hander that entices more ground balls, with Boutin being the hard-throwing lefty majoring in strikeouts.
“We have confidence in all of our guys we put on the mound, especially Derek and Tanner,” Hodges said. “They’ve kept us in every game this year.”
Broussard, a 5-foot-11, 185-pounder, has settled into his spot in Acadiana’s rotation despite a lack of varsity experience, spending his sophomore season exclusively in relief.
Broussard lost nearly his entire junior year to tendonitis — first in his shoulder and later in his elbow — before making a pair of relief appearances totaling two innings.
“Pitching-wise, it killed me not being able to pitch,” said Broussard, who still played third base and hit in the lineup. “That’s all I wanted to do this year and that was to throw.”
With wins over both Lafayette and Barbe, Broussard’s enjoyed a standout final season with a 4-3 record and 1.59 ERA. He’s allowed 33 hits in 44 innings, walking four with 32 strikeouts.
“Tanner’s not a big flamethrower, but he knows how to pitch,” Hodges said. “He throws all of his pitches for strikes at any point in the count. He’s been light’s out all year.”
Boutin’s polished up a pretty good high school résumé that included a spot on the All-District 3-5A first team last season as one of the constants in Acadiana’s rotation.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder suffered his first loss in six decisions Saturday, a one-hitter with three strikeouts.
“Nothing like that has ever happened to me,” Boutin said. “All the games I’ve pitched well in, kind of went my way. After that, I regained control and stayed within himself.”
Boutin has a 0.29 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 47.2 innings. He’s yielded two earned runs, walked five and is perfect in four save situations.
“It works out well because usually Tanner gets deep into games,” Boutin said. “He’s throwing great off-speed changeups from the right side and then I come in from the left side. I throw a little harder and it throws off batters. It changes their perspective, and it’s worked out well.”