NEW ORLEANS — When there’s a trip to the Class 5A state baseball tournament on the line, it doesn’t matter how you get there.
Just ask Brother Martin.
The third-seeded Crusaders scored two runs without a hit in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull out a 3-2 victory against Denham Springs in their regional baseball game Monday at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium, advancing them to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.
Brother Martin (30-5) will meet sixth-seeded Sam Houston, a 3-2 winner Monday against Comeaux, on Friday at Tulane’s Turchin Stadium.
“There’s nothing like it,” said Brother Martin senior second baseman Blake Battle, one of four seniors who played on that 2010 team. “To go back there this Friday is awesome.
“Hopefully we’re going to win this time.”
Battle was the beneficiary of the inning and game’s key play.
With one out and Brice Johnson on first via a walk, Battle’s grounder was booted by Yellow Jackets shortstop Wes Brown, turning a potential inning-ending double play into two on and still one out for the Crusaders.
“I just came out of the blocks as hard as could,” Battle said. “Thankfully he (Brown) missed it. We were struggling, but you put it in play and make them make a play.”
Denham Springs pitcher Mac Sceroler then hit Jacob Stewart to load the bases and Daniel Lahare reached on grounder when Jackets’ first baseman Zach Borne failed to get his foot on the bag as Johnson scored to tie it.
Cody Ducote then brought in Brown with the go-ahead run with a fly to right.
Brother Martin pitcher Corey Gaconi struck out the first two Denham Springs batters in the seventh before getting Benton Lieux on a pop foul to end it.
“That’s a tough way to lose,” Denham Springs coach Mark Carroll said. “We’ve been playing pretty clean ball all season and our pitcher is usually crisper than that.
“We tell our kids from Day 1 that walks and errors will usually win or lose the game. That held true tonight.”
Denham Springs (22-9) had taken a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth on Kaleb Clarke’s two-out home run.
But the 14th-seeded Jackets had squandered other opportunities, most notably in the first inning when Andrew Ayres led off with a double and Carl Guidry followed with an infield single and stolen base. But Gaconi struck the next two batters and got the final out on a popup.
For that matter, Brother Martin had taken little advantage of five walks and four hits until the sixth.
“We got a little out of character in the middle part of the game,” Brother Martin coach Mark Wisniewski said. “But we stayed focused so hopefully good things would happen.
“And they did.”