Not even a seven-run second inning was enough for St. Michael the Archangel to totally shake free of Plaquemine in Tuesday’s District 6-4A baseball opener for both teams.
The Warriors had to dig a little deeper, overcoming a middle-innings charge before putting the Green Devils away with five runs in the fifth inning for a 14-4 league victory at John E. Mouton Field.
“We knew that Plaquemine was a capable opponent, and they stayed in there and battled,” St. Michael coach Johnny Bernhard said. “A lot of teams would have quit down 7-0, but credit (Plaquemine) coach (Scott) Allen and his team. That’s a mentally tough bunch. They stayed in the game and made us work.”
The two teams meet again at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Plaquemine High.
Every starter had at least one hit for sixth-ranked St. Michael (13-5, 1-0) in a 13-hit attack that included four extra-base hits.
Junior first baseman J.T. Mauldin (2-for-3) homered and drove in three runs, while fellow junior left fielder Kyle Bankston also homered and drove in three runs.
Senior starting pitcher James Smith (4-0) doubled twice in three trips with two RBIs, and junior right fielder Wade Broussard (2-3) ended the shortened game with a two-out, two-run single to center in the fifth inning.
“The good thing about having young kids is they don’t get down because they don’t know any better,” said Allen, who started five underclassmen.
“We threw two freshmen, but don’t take anything away from them. They hit the ball hard.”
If not for the damaging second inning, Plaquemine (8-3) could have kept St. Michael closer in its sights early on.
Mauldin led off the second inning with his fourth homer of the season before St. Michael took advantage of a pair of errors and scored six unearned runs for a 7-0 lead.
No. 9 hitter Alex Venable contributed a key two-run single to left, Austin Edens a run-scoring single to right-center and with the Warriors batting around Mauldin’s single to right-center capped the big uprising.
Plaquemine freshman starter Dalton Brigalia (3-1) was lifted after 2.1 innings with fellow freshman Ethan King helping to keep St. Michael’s scoreless in the third.
Plaquemine cut the lead to 7-3 with three unearned runs off Smith, including a run-scoring single from catcher Chris Cox and Brigalia’s two-run single.
Bankston’s two-run homer in the bottom half of the fourth — his second of the year — helped St. Michael answer for a 9-3 lead, but the Green Devils scored once on Cox’s bases-loaded walk in the fifth before Smith overcame three walks in the inning with a groundout to snuff out any further trouble.
Smith (4-0) allowed six hits, one earned run and struck out two in a 94-pitch outing that included 53 strikes.
St. Michael sent nine batters to the plate in the fifth, scoring five times on five hits with Smith driving in two runs with his second double. Bankston was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for his third RBI, followed by Broussard’s first-pitch single that produced the Warriors final two runs and halted play.
“James probably wasn’t his sharpest today but he was gutsy to come back and make the pitch in the critical moment to prevent them from scoring more runs than they did,” Bernhard said.
“Of course our hitters answered just about every time they scored. It was good to finish the game strong.”