Episcopal’s playoff run came to an end Tuesday night when second-seeded Kinder defeated the No. 18 Knights 9-2 in a Class 2A regional round game at EHS.
“(The Yellow Jackets) are the best and most talented team in the state,” Episcopal coach Dan Canevari said. “They play and compete and have two good arms that we drew out of them on the mound.”
“We had a great ballgame,” Kinder coach Kenny Courville said. “This is what high school baseball is all about: high intensity and two teams competing on the field.”
The Yellow Jackets (26-7) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when catcher Bryce Baker ripped an RBI single after back-to-back Episcopal errors put runners on first and second base. The Knights committed four errors total.
Episcopal (17-13) responded in the bottom of the first with a leadoff double from second baseman Trent Dykes. Three batters later catcher Turner Graham blasted a double to right field, scoring Dykes and tying the game at 1-1.
Graham finished 1-for-3 with an RBI for Episcopal. Shortshop Devyn Samson went 2-for-3 with a double.
Kinder began to pull away in the third inning when shortstop Dylan Poncho blasted an RBI triple to the center field gap that scored third baseman Welles Cooley. Center fielder Brandon Norris added a two-run single to extend Kinder’s lead to 4-1.
Poncho led the way offensively for the Yellow Jackets, going 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Norris finished 1-for-2 with two RBIs and right fielder DC Arceneaux finished 2-for-2 with a double.
“Great job by him (Poncho),” Courville said. “It was his night tonight, and that’s what we’re looking for in everybody, to be ready to step up when their number is called.”
The Yellow Jackets blasted 11 hits, while Episcopal managed six.
Jason Roussel took the loss for the Knights, pitching three innings, and allowing three earned runs on six hits with no strikeouts and a walk.
In the bottom of the third, after Graham drew a walk, courtesy runner Ty Williams made his way around the bases after a couple of passed balls, and eventually scored on a Matt Clark RBI groundout that cut the lead to 4-2.
Graham took the mound in relief in the fourth and held Kinder scoreless in the fourth and fifth innings. Graham allowed one earned one run on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks on the night.
“Turner Graham did a magnificent job at pitching out of some jams, but they just delivered some hits,” Canevari said.
The Yellow Jackets blew the game wide open in the sixth inning. After leading off the inning with three singles, Kinder took advantage of a series of Episcopal mistakes that included overthrown balls, hit batters, and wild pitches, to score four runs that padded its 8-2 lead.
“You have the big innings, and as a defense you want to limit their big innings,” Courville said. “We were fortunate tonight that we had some big innings.”
“The biggest thing it’s 4-2, and then they cracked the game (open),” Canevari said. “We had a shot at 4-2.”
Zach Rider picked up the win for Kinder, pitching 3.1 innings and allowing one earned run on four hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Poncho pitched in relief, allowing no runs on two hits with four strikeouts.
“Zach got up there and competed really hard and did a great job,” Courville said. “He didn’t have his best stuff tonight and that’s OK, and then Dylan came in and really pitched well tonight.”
Kinder picked up another run in the top of the seventh inning off an RBI single by Poncho to extend the lead to 9-2.
The Knights failed to muster a rally, failing to score in the final four innings.
“We’re proud of the way our kids competed,” Canevari said. “You had a heck of a game, and despite making errors we still competed.”