Hitting homers is a powerful feeling and a game changer.
Three St. Michael the Archangel players combined for four homers as the Warriors defeated Eunice 8-6 Tuesday in a Class 4A regional-round baseball playoff game at St. Michael.
Fifth-seeded St. Michael (23-9) also had two homers in its 15-5 bidistrict playoff victory over Beau Chene.
Senior J.T. Mauldin had two homers, including a left field shot that hit the roof of the batting cages. Senior Zach Harris had a solo shot and another senior, Austin Edens, had a homer, his third in the playoffs. To make the feats more impressive, Mauldin and Harris in the first inning and Edens and Mauldin in the third inning hit back-to-back homers.
“I was just ready to hit,” said Mauldin, ironically an LSU-Eunice baseball signee with eight homers on the season. “We definitely have power.”
Mauldin had just two official plate appearances as he was intentionally walked twice.
St. Michael advances to the quarterfinals for the first time since finishing as the Class 4A runner-up in 2011. The Warriors will travel to face the Benton vs. Northwood winner. Eunice (25-8) finishes with the second most wins in school history.
“St. Michael is one of the best teams in Class 4A,” Eunice coach Scott Phillips said. “They had too much arsenal for our arms. “We could have gotten shelled. We battled and had the tying run at the plate in the seventh.”
Eunice took a 4-0 lead in the first inning with two hits and two St. Michael errors. Dylan McElroy (6-2) came on in relief in the second inning and held the Bobcats to one run the next five innings before Eunice’s Gunner Fontenot had an RBI double in the seventh with none out.
St. Michael senior Laine Fontenot got the save by retiring the next three batters. St. Michael second baseman Kyle Cannatella had a spectacular diving stop and throw to first for the second out. Left fielder Harris also made a running catch at the wall to end the fifth inning and deny Wes Hebert, who doubled in his first two at bats.
“We made some great defensive plays,” St. Michael coach Johnny Bernhard said. “Eunice was a real scrappy team. We never really had that big scoring inning to put them away. Our 12 seniors came through again.”
St. Michael scored three runs in the first and two in the third with its four homers. In the bottom of the fourth, St. Michael’s Ross Scelfo scored on a botched pickoff attempt as the Warriors led 6-5.
In the bottom of the sixth, Christopher Reid had an RBI double and Edens hit a deep shot that was misplayed in center field as the Warriors picked up two runs to lead 8-5.
Cannatella had three hits and Edens and Mauldin two each. St. Michael had 13 hits.
“It’s exciting that we’re in the quarterfinals,” McElroy said. “All of our pitchers are close, and we pull for each other. I was glad to hand the ball to Laine Fontenot.”