Regardless of how their respective journeys intersected fifth-seeded Parkview Baptist and top-seeded Evangel Christian provide quite a contrast in styles in Friday’s Class 3A state semifinal.
The 3 o’clock contest in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Baseball Tournament at Sulphur’s McMurray Park matches pitching-dominated Parkview Baptist (22-12) against offensive-laden Evangel (23-9), the defending state champion.
The winner moves on to Saturday’s 6 p.m. championship game against the John Curtis-Iowa winner.
“The reports are they can hit it one through nine,” PBs coach Darron Mitchell said. “We’ve got to find a way to go in there and match them pitching wise. We can’t make mistakes. We’ve got to play manage-control baseball and find a way to score a few runs.”
PBS has relied heavily on that method in its 10-game win streak, allowing only 10 runs during that stretch with three of those coming in the state playoffs.
The Eagles are pursuing their 13th state championship and first since defeating E.D. White for the 2013 state crown.
“It’s always nice to get back,” Mitchell said of the state tournament. “Pitching’s really carried us and given us a chance to get to the state tournament, where our goal was to play for a state championship and win it.”
PBS is armed with a sterling pitching staff that has 1.68 team ERA and eight shutouts.
Senior left-hander Hunter Joubert (5-1, 1.15 ERA, 68 strikeouts in 61 innings) is the scheduled starter for the Eagles, who will be trying to slow down an Evangel offense that’s produced double-digit runs 11 times this season and has six run-rule victories.
“We feel like he gives us a great chance to win this game,” Mitchell said of Joubert, who will continue his career at LSU-Eunice. “He earned the opportunity to start a big game like this. He’s pitched fantastic all year as well as (Adam) Tarver.”
Senior right-hander Tarver (6-3, one save, 0.98 ERA, 73 strikeouts in 57 innings), a Nicholls State signee, is coming off a complete-game performance in Monday’s 5-1 quarterfinal win over South Beauregard. Wes Anderson (4-1, 1.69 ERA, 40 strikeouts, 37.1 innings) is another viable pitching option this weekend.
Shortstop Sam O’Brien is PBS’ offensive leader with a .427 average, 24 RBIs followed by catcher Hayden Nickens (.330, 10 doubles and 17 RBIs), center fielder Pryce Fletcher (.315, three doubles, 15 RBIs). Tarver and Joubert are batting .313. Tarver has hit a team-high three homers with 20 RBIs. Joubert has five triples and 17 RBIs.
“This team has really started gelling the last month or so,” Mitchell said. “They’ve been playing loose. I felt early on in the season we were tight and really didn’t have an identity and we’re trying to find it. I’m expecting a good game. They’re well coached, we’re well coached. It should be another fun one.”