It is déjà vu for the Acadiana High baseball team.
For the second straight year, Acadiana will face archrival Lafayette High in the second round of the Class 5A baseball playoffs. No. 15 Acadiana (17-14) begins a best-of-three regional series at No. 2 Lafayette (22-8) starting at 4 p.m. Friday.
“It is a good thing for this area,” Acadiana first-year coach Matt McCullough said. “We are playing a good baseball team. The kids are excited about playing them. It has been a good rivalry for a long time. It’s always a battle when you play each other.”
The two teams faced off three times during the regular season. At their early-season tournament, the Mighty Lions claimed the first game 6-4 but dropped the first District 3-5A contest 3-0 to the Rams before winning the rubber match 6-2.
After spending the past decade coaching at Comeaux, McCullough has enjoyed his first year with the Rams, despite their inexperience. Acadiana features only a few starters from last year’s senior-laden team, and lost right fielder Jacob Landry to a torn ACL early in district play.
“Were a scrappy group,” McCullough said. “We have a lot of young kids. But since district started our guys have been competing really well. They are learning how to win close games late. Our thing is that we want to give ourselves a chance to win the game late.”
The second-round matchup comes on the heals of both teams winning close games. Helped by a home run by third baseman Miguel Reyes, Lafayette edged No. 31 Alexandria Senior High 5-4 in the opening round. Acadiana, meanwhile defeated No. 18 Dutchtown 2-1 behind a strong pitching performance by senior Brandon Duhon.
Duhon, who also plays infield, has been part of a one-two punch on the mound for Acadiana. Duhon is 7-3 on the, while Chad Romero has gone 6-2.
McCullough has yet to decide who will pitch the opening game of the series.
“They have done a good job every time they get on the mound to pitch for us,” McCullough said. “Each one of those guys gives us a good chance to win.”
Acadiana is led at the plate by Duhon (.417), center fielder Bralen Trahan (.390), Romero (.360), and sophomore Mateo Beltran (.340).
For Acadiana to down its archrival, which beat them 2-0 in last year’s playoff series, McCullough said his team just needs to keep battling from start to finish.
“The biggest thing we have to compete with is our throwing strikes,” McCullough said. “We have to play good defense. We have to battle. We don’t throw a lot of strikes, so our guys have to get ahead in the count and make some pitches.
“And then our lineup has to battle at the plate.”
Regardless of what happens this weekend though, McCullough has had a blast coaching the Rams.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed it,” McCullough said. “We got a group of kids that really work hard. Our kids have been working hard and steadily have gotten better throughout the year. I have enjoyed coaching them.”