DENHAM SPRINGS — It wasn’t a perfect night for either team. The Louisiana High School Coaches Association’s East and West All-Star teams combined to commit six errors in the first game of their weekend series Friday night.
With the bad, there was the good in the form of West Monroe pitcher Austin Booth and Ouachita Christian pitcher Ty O’Neal, who gave East the boost it needed to notch a 5-4 come-from-behind victory at North Park.
Booth pitched three scoreless innings, giving the East a chance to score five un answered runs, including the unearned run in the top of the ninth that won it. The teams meet again at 10:15 a.m. Saturday to conclude their two-game series.
“I was just trying to give my team a chance,” said Booth, who was voted the MVP. “I thought my changeup worked well.”
O’Neal struck two of the three batters he faced to get the save. West Ouachita’s Austin Tidwell walked with two outs in the top of the ninth and scored the game-winning run on the fourth West error.
“Some of these kids haven’t played in a couple of weeks, and some of them have been on senior trips,” East coach Mitch Thomas of West Ouachita said. “We knew it would be a little ugly at times, and it was. But I think you also saw the competitiveness and ability these guys have. I expect the play to be cleaner and just as competitive tomorrow.”
Benton’s Will Hine and Makhail Hilliard of Central sailed through the first two innings with few issues to open the game.
A combination of two wild pitches and an error gave the West a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third. St. Louis Catholic’s Julian Gonzales scored on a wild pitch and Connor Dupuy of North Vermilion scored on an error after Denham Springs’ Brock Batty came on to replace Hilliard.
The West then added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. An RBI single by Matthew Collins of Opelousas Catholic made it 3-0 in the fourth. Sam Houston’s Chris Haggard had an RBI single in the fifth.
But the East battled back. An groundout by West Ouachita’s Dawson Huckaby scored the East's first run in the sixth. The East tied it with three runs in the seventh. St. John’s Dylan Hurst had an RBI single. West Monroe’s Taylor Young hit into fielder’s choice that scored the second run. A groundout by Destrehan’s Dane Simon tied it.
"I was down 0-2 in the count,and I looked for a fastball to hit," Hurst said. "I got it, and we got the runs. We had to keep battling. ... That's baseball."