After East Jefferson jumped out to a 6-1 lead against Karr Tuesday, Karr baseball coach Donnie Russell said he was “hoping to trap a rabbit’s foot somewhere, but EJ doesn’t let that happen.”
The Warriors scored five runs in the second inning, added another in the third, and then survived a Karr rally to win 6-5 at East Jefferson field in a Class 4A regional playoff.
East Jefferson advances to the quarterfinals against the winner of Tuesday night’s Crowley-West Ouachita game.
Tuesday’s loss by the 10th-seeded Cougars was only their second of the season, both against the Warriors. East Jefferson (22-10), seeded 26th, will be playing in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2003.
“Whew, this win was huge,” East Jeff’s Jimmy Prieur said. The second of Prieur’s two extra base hits, a two-run triple, was one of the key hits in the five-run second inning.”
Even with the lead, Prieur said, “We knew (Karr) would not make it easy. They hustle from start to finish, and they’ve got really good players.”
Dominic Giovingo, a junior right-hander, pitched a complete game and battled through a pair of two-run rallies by Karr in the sixth and seventh. He faced the potential tying run in the seventh.
Karr, trailing 6-3 , had the potential winning run at the plate in the sixth after loading the bases.
After Karr had scored twice, a nice stop just behind the bag by second baseman Jonathon Manos ended the sixth inning. Tyler Reid drove a ball into the left-centerfield gap that scored D’Monte Carter, and Reid stole third and eventually came home on a bases- loaded walk to D’Andre Williams.
Giovingo struck out six and retired nine hitters on pop ups.
“I was able to keep them off balance,” he said. “They are such a good hitting team. We went with the off-speed stuff in the later innings. We were able to get some swings (leaning) off the front foot.”
East Jefferson coach Brent Whittington said,“Pitching coach Eric Roberts called an outstanding game and (Giovingo) did a great job executing against a very good hitting team.
“Dominic is such a competitor and has such a good sidearm slider, he can make it tough .”
The Warriors fell behind 1-0 before scoring five times in the second and once in the third.
The Warriors’ Austin Hibbs, who reached base three times with a pair of doubles and a walk, led off the third with his first double. He scored on Kody McCarthy’s single. Jamal Veazey, one of only two seniors on Whittington’s team, singled in a pair of runs and Prieur, who doubled in the first, hit a two-run triple deep to left.
“They do nothing to lose a game,” Russell said of East Jefferson. “They do everything to win it.”
Russell did not use the ace of his staff, 15-year-old Tyree Thompson, until the fourth inning. He shut down East Jeff’s offense down, striking out seven in three innings.
“He threw 100 pitches (against Plaquemine on Saturday),” Russell said. “He came to me after the fourth and said ‘Give me the ball.’ He’s a gladiator.”