Gritty St. John of Plaquemine kept things close for five innings and outhit powerful University 9-6 in a non-district baseball game Monday at LSU.
But the Eagles had one bad inning — the bottom of the sixth. Two St. John pitchers combined to hit three batters and University scored two unearned runs to take a 6-3 victory. A botched pickoff play led to one run, and Grant Bonnette hit an infield sacrifice to score another.
“We put six guys on base with hit batters and walks,” St. John coach Jason Kinchen said. “Good teams like University will take advantage of that. “University’s pitcher (Grant Upton) is the best pitcher we’ve faced this year, and we were able to take some good swings. We’re looking at the positives from today and feel good about our chances in the playoffs.”
Six players had one hit for University (25-4), while St. John (26-5) was led by Tre Dupont (3-for-4, leadoff solo homer in first), Ben Bucher (2-for-4, double) and Landon Leblanc (2-for-3, double).
St. John scored single runs in the first, fourth and fifth innings. The Eagles led 2-0 in the top of the fourth after Grant Blanchard drove in Leblanc, who opened the stanza with a double.
The Cubs roared back with three runs in the bottom of the fourth on three hits. Jacob Burke led off with a single and later scored on a botched pickoff play. Brock Slaton singled to drive in two runs.
St. John tied it at 3 in the top of the fifth on Ben Bucher's RBI single. University took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth as Will Safford smashed a leadoff solo homer.
“Defensively we played about as good as we could have today,” University coach Justin Morgan. “We communicated well and made the routine plays.”
University second baseman Jake Rosenfeld made a difficult leaping catch in the sixth inning and made the throw for a double play to retire the side.
Upton (5-1) pitched six innings and had five strikeouts. Fox Vidrine closed. Leblanc (5-1) took the loss.
“The homer by Will Safford was huge,” Morgan said. “The two insurance runs in the sixth were huge. We were able to play relaxed in the seventh.
“We have a ton of respect for St. John,” Morgan said. “They play the game the right way. I look for them to make a nice playoff run in their division.
“I feel like the strength of our team is pitching, defense and our seniors. I like my team.”