SULPHUR — Seventh-seeded St. Edmund baseball team earned a shot at a state championship Friday afternoon with an 8-1 victory against sixth-seeded Central Catholic in a Class 1A semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Baseball tournament at McMurry Park.
St. Edmund (20-11) seized control with a four-run fourth inning that gave it a 5-0 lead, and it never looked back as it stifled the Eagles (21-5) with consistent defense.
“The thing that we’ve been preaching all year long is for our kids to get the bat off of their shoulders and swing the bat,” St. Edmund coach Scotty Richard said. “It’s like they’re waiting for the perfect pitch everytime. (Friday), they actually hit good pitching. I’m very proud of the way the swung the bat today.”
The Blue Jays outhit the Eagles 11-4, and they put a runner on base in six of the seven innings. Senior right fielder Ross Lafleur led St. Edmund, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run, and Blue Jays pitcher Drew Brown threw a complete game, giving up four hits and one earned run.
After scoring a run in the third, the Blue Jays opened the game up in the fourth inning when five consecutive batters reached base and the first four of them went all the way around the bases.
That’s when Richard decided to keep St. Edmund senior pitcher Drew Brown on the mound for the rest of the game.
Brown threw a lot of pitches, and it began to show in the fourth inning when he walked the bases loaded in the fifth inning. He also allowed two hits and a run in the fifth.
But with the game comfortably in hand, Richard decided to rest his bullpen until he absolutely had to take Brown out.
“I think his arm got tired,” Richard said. “We kept talking to him about it and had guys warming up in the (bullpen), but then we came out and scored some runs.
“We decided to leave him out there until he got out of the inning and save our pitching for (Saturday).”
Brown received a lot of help from the defense, especially from sophomore first baseman Jack Brown, who played a part in 13 of the 21 outs.
“We had some good swings, and they had some big stops,” Central Catholic coach Tyler Jensen said. “It wasn’t our day. People said they made some lucky plays, but they consistently made good plays. I don’t call it luck when you consistently make the same plays over and over again. They played great today, and they outplayed us.”
St. Edmund will take on Ouachita Christian for the Class 1A state title at 4 p.m. Saturday on Field 37.