Simply put, East Jefferson had no answer for West Ouachita Thursday.
East Jefferson saw its season come to a screeching halt with a 13-0, five-inning loss in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
“We just ran into a buzzsaw today,” East Jefferson coach Brent Whittington said. “They just hit everything we threw up there. Our pitchers threw strikes for the most part. But what are you going to do? They just hit rockets from line to line, gap to gap, all over the field.”
West Ouachita finished with 18 hits to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2011. The Chiefs (28-9), the No. 2 seed, will play the winner of Saturday’s Vandebilt Catholic-Neville winner next week in the semifinals in Sulphur.
East Jefferson, the No. 26 seed, finished 22-11.
The Warriors fell behind 2-0 in the first inning, then watched the Chiefs put the game away by pouring on eight more runs in the second inning. Back-to-back doubles by Clay Labeff and Joseph Tassin, along with a triple by Austin Russell highlighted the inning. The Chiefs sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning.
“I thought we took the momentum away early,” said West Ouachita coach Mitch Thomas. “As hot as (East Jefferson) has been, we felt we needed to start early. We scored early, and I thought our pitcher (Jordan Antley) did a hell of a job on the mound. I thought we took all the air out of them in the second inning.”
In five innings, Antley gave up three hits and struck out four. He retired the first six batters he faced before East Jeff’s Josh Lopez reached on an infield single. Lopez singled again in the fifth and Dominic Giovingo had a single in the fourth for the Warriors’ other hits.
Jimmy Prieur started on the mound for East Jefferson but was replaced by Brad Randazzo in the second.
“It didn’t matter which pitch we threw or which pitcher we put up there, they hit the ball,” Whittington said.
West Ouachita, in the semifinals for the first time since 2011, has outscored its three playoff opponents (Bastrop, Crowley, and EJ) by a combined score of 35-6.
“We started off the season with good pitching and defense, but we were slow swinging the bats at first,” Thomas said. “Coming into the year, I thought that was going to be our strength. About midway through the season, we started swinging, and the last two or three weeks we really caught fire.”
The loss brought to a close what has been a highly- successful athletic year for East Jefferson in the major sports. The Warriors won a state title in football and reached the title game in basketball.
Jamal Veazey, the lone East Jefferson athlete to play all three sports, popped out to right field to end it.
“We only got Jamal (from basketball) on March 15,” Whittington said. “The difference in this team in the month and a half we had him was like night and day. He meant a great deal to us.”
Veazey, EJ’s shortstop and leadoff batter, is one of two seniors for East Jeff. Second baseman Jonathan Manos, the No. 2 hole hitter, is the other.
“Jonathan was a great leader in the weightroom, in the dugout and in the field,” Whittington said. “He had a great year and batted .360. Unfortunately they are both gone now, and we have to move on without them. Those are two big pieces of our team.”
With everyone else returning, including all four pitchers, Whittington is optimistic about next season. And he is pleased with how his team fared this season.
“I thought this team peaked at the right time, within the last three weeks,” Whittington said. “We won our district undefeated and to go to Franklinton to win (in the playoffs) says a lot about the guys. And then beating Karr with the athletes and offensive players they have. Obviously, we are disappointed about today and wish today would have been a little different. But we have to be happy with our season overall.”