LAFAYETTE — As Louisiana’s best high school baseball players gathered on Sunday, a messy, exciting doubleheader ensued, and winning was an afterthought for both teams.
Franklinton’s Craig Estave, who was the East’s catcher for 14 straight innings through cramping in his quadriceps, was named Sunday’s overall Most Valuable Player after Game 1 ended in a 1-1 tie. The East scored a 5-0 win in Game 2 in the games played at Louisiana-Lafayette’s M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
“I’ve never caught 14 innings before,” Estave, an unsigned Division I prospect, said. “It’s nice playing with everyone and getting after it.
“I didn’t think I was going to get it. It was definitely the 14 innings.”
Most of the first game featured sloppy routine plays and strikeouts from Louisiana’s best pitching prospects — including five LSU signees at different positions, nearly a dozen other signees to Louisiana universities and one future Texas Longhorn, scattered throughout both dugouts.
“First game was close,” St. Thomas More and West head coach Gary Perkins said. “Our kids played hard, and that’s about all you can do. It was fun.”
But the experience and camaraderie was more important to Catholic High and East coach Brad Bass.
“A lot of guys are meeting each other for the first time,” he said. “When you get in a setting like this, it shows how much the guys have in common and they had a blast playing the game they love.”
Airline High School’s Kyle Backofen, a UL-Monroe signee, was named the West’s MVP and West Feliciana’s Trey Morgan, a Southeastern signee, was granted the East’s prize.
In the seventh inning of the first game, the West’s Alex Boone of North DeSoto reached third base after a bunt following an overthrown ball to to first base — a play that summed up the first game.
Other than a sacrifice fly from Estave that scored Texas signee Ryan Reynolds of Ouachita Christian — and son of former Astros pitcher Shane Reynolds — from third, no other scoring plays were made until the final inning in Game 1.
The second game told a different story for the East.
In the bottom of the first inning, the East jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice ground out that scored West Ouachita’s Zach Watson, an LSU shortstop signee.
The East added runs in the third and fourth innings. The East knocked a triple into right field to score two and stretch the lead to 3-0.
Then, a ground-rule double over the left-field put runners at second and third. A sacrifice fly by Chaz Scivique, brother of former LSU catcher Kade, followed to score a run.
In the sixth, the East slashed a probable single into right field, but a misplay by the right fielder allowed the runner to move to third base, scoring the team’s fifth run.
The East finished Game 2 with eight hits, while the West had two.
“This is an incredible group of guys, and that was an awesome experience,” Bass said.