CROWLEY — After scoring 26 runs in the first two playoff games, it was the Brusly High School defense that guided the Panthers on Monday night into the Class 3A state baseball tournament.
Brusly turned three double plays, aiding pitcher Taylor Prejean in a 4-1 quarterfinal playoff victory over No. 3 seed Notre Dame of Crowley at Miller Stadium.
Prejean certainly did his part, limiting Notre Dame to four hits. Then in the bottom of the seventh, Prejean struck out the side to end the game and set up Brusly’s semifinal rematch against district rival E.D. White.
“I can’t say enough about our defense, especially our second baseman, Logan Smith. He started two double plays with unassisted tags and then we got another (started by shortstop Beau Witty),” Brusly coach Tait Dupont said.
No. 11 seed Brusly improved to 26-7. The Pioneers played their final game under baseball coach Tim Robichaux and finished 20-13.
Dupont also complimented Prejean, who allowed a pair of singles and a double that fell just beyond third base.
“Taylor pitched his tail off,” Dupont said. “He gave a great effort. He’s got an earned run average below (1.00) and (Prejean) has been the guy for us the whole year.
“(On Monday night) he had good command of all his pitches. I thought he was equally effective with his fastball, the change and the curve.”
Robichaux said the Panthers’ double plays were significant.
“Brusly did a great job of defense,” he said. “The double play stopped one of our potential innings where we could have scored. I really thought we would show up better, but this has been a great group of players to coach, especially considering that we had a bad start.”
The Panthers’ first double play came in the second when Smith snuffed out a Pioneers rally, tagging the lead runner going to second and then throwing to first baseman Luke LeBlanc.
Another double play started by Wiitty ended the fourth. In the fifth, Smith again tagged the runner heading from first to second and threw to LeBlanc for the final out.
Brusly bolted to a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
Cullen Prejean’s leadoff infield single started things. Prejean later scored on a two-out infield error. The second run followed as Smith scored Witty on a double to deep center field.
NDHS cut that lead to a run in the third when second baseman Hogan Guidry hit a leadoff double that landed behind third base.
A passed ball moved Guidry to third and he scored on a fielder’s choice.
The Panthers extended the lead to 4-1 in the fifth. Smith began things with a walk and went to second on the second Pioneers infield error as Kwansta Adkins placed down a bunt.
Another bunt by Blake Mahala advanced both runners and an intentional walk to Taylor Prejean loaded the bases.
LeBlanc’s grounder through the infield scored the two runs.
Brusly killed a potential NDHS breakout inning in the bottom of the fifth.
Jacques Thibodeaux singled, and after two were out, Prejean walked Gavin Bourgeois and Brad Stoma. The inning ended when BHS third baseman Calvin Prejean threw out Dillen Gilbert at first after fielding a sharply hit ground ball.