After having its 16-game win streak snapped by St. Amant and falling out of a tie for the District 5-5A lead Catholic High appeared on the verge of getting swept.
The Gators were in control with a 3-0 lead through five innings behind the hitting of Zane Zeppuhar and pitching of starter Tyler Tidwell.
“We never gave up and knew we still had a chance in the game, even it came down to the last out,” Catholic center fielder Patrick Crifasi said.
A fielding error opened the door with Catholic tying the game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, and Crifasi scored the winning run from third base on a two-out, wild pitch in the eighth for a 4-3 victory Tuesday over St. Amant.
Catholic (22-5, 5-1) regained a share of the league lead with Dutchtown. On Thursday, the Bears will host the Griffins (18-9, 5-1) who dropped a 2-1 decision to East Ascension on Tuesday.
“This really shows the character of this team,” Catholic coach Brad Bass. “We were coming off a (Saturday’s 8-6) loss after playing well, then got hit in the mouth to go down in this game and were able to fight back.”
Zeppuhar (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) had a solo homer in the second inning, and St. Amant (14-11, 4-2) made it 3-0 when Ivan Prejean (2-4, RBI) and Zeppuhar had back-to-back RBI singles off Catholic reliever Brady Hebert.
Hebert took over a batter into the fifth for starter Parker Evans, who walked five and allowed three runs. The sophomore right-hander retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced, including five strikeouts and two walks.
Tidwell yielded three hits through five innings, but with his pitch count climbing above 90 in the sixth inning, the right-hander experienced control problems with a walk and hit batter.
The Gators defense committed the second of three errors, enabling the Bears to score a run and then tied the game at 3 on pinch-hitter Brian Fairbanks’ two-run double off Tidwell to the right-center gap.
“He pitched well,” St. Amant coach Troy Templet said of Tidwell. “He was starting to lose a little bit and didn’t have quite the command. You can’t give free bases like that, and they hit the ball hard and we made a mistake.”
St. Amant reliever Jacob Spell worked out three straight bases-loaded jams, including strikeouts to end the sixth and seventh, but Crifasi opened the eighth by flaring a single to right on an 0-2 pitch.
Cole Johnson and Brandon Fairbanks both executed sacrifice bunts when St. Amant elected to load the bases with two outs and intentionally walk LSU signee Josh Smith.
Tristan Welch ran the count to 1-1 when a curveball got away from Spell, bouncing past catcher Reed Babin and allowing Crifasi to easily score.
“When I saw it was breaking in the dirt, I got a little extra lead,” Crifasi said. “Once it got past the catcher I just ran. I’m glad I scored.”