LAFAYETTE — After they were thrown off balance, the Lafayette High Mighty Lions steadied themselves and found their footing.
Emile Lege’s two-out, bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Owen Thibodeaux with the winning run in a 2-1 victory over East Ascension in a first-round Class 5A playoff game Tuesday night at Moore Field on the Louisiana-Lafayette campus.
“(Starting pitcher Hayden) Adams kept us off balance,” Lafayette coach Sam Taulli said. “We tried to get his pitch count up, but we took too many pitches.”
The final run capped a Lafayette comeback that saw East Ascension grab a 1-0 lead before the Lions responded with a run in the sixth to even the score.
“That was a hard-fought game,” Taulli said. “They are well coached. I feel their pain.”
The Spartans put runners at first and second to start the game, but Hardin answered with back-to-back strikeouts and a popout to end that early threat.
Neither team mounted a big threat through the first three innings, as the Spartans’ Adams held the Lions to one hit while striking out four. Meanwhile Lafayette starter Bo Hardin kept East Ascension off the board and had five strikeouts in those first nine outs.
The Spartans broke through in the top of the fourth thanks to a two-out single to left by Austin McInnis that knocked in Cole Holley, who led off the inning with a single. Hardin ended the inning with a strikeout. “(The Spartans) were aggressive,” Hardin said. “We knew with this (big) park it would be tough to hit the ball out. We couldn’t give them free stuff (walks).”
The Lions evened the score in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a pair of walks and a two-out single from Ben Reynolds.
“The big park was both a plus and a minus for us,” Taulli said. “We have a little more pop than them in our lineup and have five guys who could hit it out (at a high school field.) But we also have three guys in our outfield who can run.”
Cole Holley took over for Adams in the seventh and started with a pair of walks. He bounced back to get a pair of outs, but a hit batsman loaded the bases before the game-ending walk.
Antoine Duplantis went 1-for-4 with a double for Lafayette. Austin Mcinnis went 2-for-3 for the Spartans, who finished the season 13-18.