DENHAM SPRINGS — From one extreme to another.
That’s the tightrope Dutchtown’s baseball team walked to reach its second Class 5A state quarterfinals in three years.
No. 13 Dutchtown dug deep to overcome its worst loss of the season and subsequent three-run deficit in the first inning of Saturday’s third and deciding game for a 8-4 win in 10 innings over No. 4 Denham Springs at A.B. Netterville Field.
“That first game was like a boxing match and we went down to the mat twice and had a nine count in the fifth inning of the first game,” said Dutchtown coach Chris Schexnaydre of his team’s 14-2 run-rule loss in Saturday’s opener. “The guys got off the deck and came out in the first inning of the second game and we got knocked down again. There’s not a group I’m more proud of.”
Dutchtown (25-12), which opened with a 3-2 win, captured the series and advanced to Friday’s best-of-three against No. 5 St. Amant, which swept two games from No. 12 Shaw.
DUTCHTOWN 8, DENHAM SPRINGS 4: DSHS (27-11) wasn’t only impressive in its first-game onslaught with 14 runs and 12 hits, but rolled out to a 4-1 lead in Game 3 on an error and two-run single from Ashton Martin (4-for-5).
Junior starter Dillon Abbess, who wobbled through a 33-pitch first inning, extinguished Denham Springs’ red-hot bats and kept the Jackets scoreless for nine innings during his complete-game victory.Abbess (6-1) threw 96 of 146 pitches for strikes, yielded eight hits, walked five and struck out eight.
“This is the most important game I’ve been through,” Abbess said. “I knew it was going to come one day so I had to capitalize and do it.”
Denham Springs starter Brennan Batty (6-3) was nearly Abbess’ equal, pitching into the 10th inning when he exited after 115 pitches and consecutive singles.
Batty kept Dutchtown scoreless and gave up three singles in that span after the Griffins tied the score at 4-all with a three-run third inning.
“He did his part today,” Denham Springs coach Mark Carroll said. “He let us have a shot at winning. We didn’t get that two-out hit like we did in the first game. That’s the difference.”
Dutchtown erupted for four runs after two were out with Trey Gallman snapping the deadlock with a deep drive to left for a two-run double. Pinch-hitter Caleb Ricca and Tyler Boeding (2-4) followed with run-scoring doubles against reliever Brian McCaffrey.
LSU signee Austin Babin had four of the Griffins’ 11 hits and Evan Richardson added two.
After surviving what could have been a game-winning, two-run homer from DSHS’ Kaleb Clark that curved foul by three feet in the ninth, Abbess retired the Jackets in order in the 10th with strikeouts of Martin and Tanner Magee to punctuate the win.
“When Dillon came in I told him we need six goose eggs (scoreless innings) and we’re going to try and get back in this thing,” Schexnaydre said. “Unfortunately we needed nine and he was outstanding. He laid it all on the line for his teammates, they played behind him and we got some timely hits late.
DENHAM SPRINGS 14, DUTCHTOWN 2: Carl Guidry (4-4) and Travis Swaggerty (3-4) combined to drive in six runs, while Clark (2-3) homered and drove in three more in DSHS’ second-game mercy-rule win in five innings.
Denham Springs established a 3-0 lead after two innings and scored three more in the third. The Yellow Jackets exploded for five more an inning later – batting around in the process – with run-scoring hits from Guidry and Swaggerty making it 11-0.
Mac Scerlor (9-5) was the winning pitcher, scattering five hits am yielding two runs, walked two and struck out.
“It was a great series,” Carroll said. “If everybody else’s two-out-of-three was like ours was here, that’s good for the game of baseball in our state. It’s nothing but good stuff except for the ending.”