After wild ending to its playoff run last year, Opelousas Catholic baseball squad is aiming to finish the job _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Home plate umpire Kim Pollack ejects Opelousas Catholic head coach Justin Boyd during the Opelousas Catholic and Catholic New Iberia matchup on Friday, May 16, 2014, during the Class 2A semifinals at McMurray Park in Sulphur. Boyd argued with Pollack regarding Pollack's call after the at-plate collision of his player Logan Constatine and Opelousas New Iberia's catcher Kylan Bonin.

OPELOUSAS — Justin Boyd wasn’t even allowed to watch the end of the game.

In the third inning of last year’s Class 2A semifinal game against district rival Catholic-New Iberia, the Opelousas Catholic coach walked out to talk to the home plate umpire following a call at the plate. The umpire had called a Vikings player safe when crossing home — but then changed his mind and called him out for malicious contact.

Instead of having scored a run and with runners on second and third with one out, OCHS had not scored and now had two outs.

“I went out there and talked about the situation, and the home plate umpire didn’t want to hear it from me or anybody,” Boyd said. “I kept telling him that I wasn’t arguing, that I just wanted to talk about the situation because it was a huge play in the game. I didn’t do anything to get thrown out of the game — much less a semifinal game.”

Boyd was thrown out of the game, and his team went on to lose 11-8.

He listened to the game over the public-address system while sitting by a tree behind the center-field wall.

“I wish I could have been there to lose with them,” he said.

Boyd and his team are determined that won’t happen again. Heading into the final week of the regular season, OCHS (17-7, 5-2) is No. 8 in the latest power rankings and can wrap up the District 5-2A championship if the team wins its final three district contests this week.

OCHS plays at Delcambre at 4 p.m. Monday, then visits Westminster Christian on Tuesday before wrapping up 5-2A play at home Thursday against Delcambre.

“We would like to win district, but playoffs is what really counts,” senior Zachary Hebert said.

OCHS returns four starters from last year’s team, which reached the semifinals for the first time since 2006. A big question entering the season: What would the Vikings do on the mound after losing four players from the pitching staff? The answer: Junior left-hander Spencer Noel is 6-2 with a 1.66 ERA.

The offense hasn’t been in doubt. The Vikings are averaging 10.6 runs and have scored 13 or more four times in the past nine games. The biggest games came in back-to-back district matchups against Jeanerette — 18-1 and 22-0 victories.

Hebert leads the team with a .366 average. Caleb Theriot has a team-high 22 RBIs, and Matt Collins is tops with 26 runs.

Mastering the basics is what Boyd preaches to his team.

“It is simple,” he said. “We got to throw strikes, play defense and get timely hits. The games that we won against good teams, that is what we’ve done. The games we struggled, we walked batters, had errors and didn’t get hits.”

The Vikings believe that they are more than capable of getting back to the semifinals, and they are confident and focused that they won’t fall short this time.

“We think we should have won that game,” sophomore catcher Sam Jarrell said of last year’s semifinal loss. “And we think we should have won the championship game as well.

“We think we should get back there again and go even further this year.”