ERATH — Instead of sitting idly and enjoying their early District 8-3A lead for the Easter holidays, Erath’s baseball team went back to work to gauge itself against Crowley, one of the state’s top Class 4A teams.
The Bobcats showed they were primed for the challenge, early and again late, after the Gents rallied to tie the game after six innings.
Erath, ranked No. 7 in Class 3A, loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, and Kobe Miller scored from third on a wild pitch for a 4-3 victory Saturday over Crowley at Bobcat Field.
“A game like this against a good opponent forces our kids to stay focused, locked in and play hard,” Erath first-year coach Jeremy Picard said. “I wanted to make sure our kids continue to stay locked in day and day out and continue to roll if we can.”
Three days after a two-game sweep over league rival North Vermilion, Erath (15-4) jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first inning on Bryson Suire’s bases-loaded double.
The Bobcats, who face Berwick in a Tuesday-Thursday District 8-3A series, extended their win streak to seven games.
“They’re a really good team. That’s what we need to see going into our second round of district,” Picard said of Crowley. “I was pleased with the way our kids never gave in and continued to battle and fought until the end.”
Crowley (10-5), which had its 10-game win streak snapped, scored twice in the sixth to tie it at 3-3, and if not for an alert defensive play from the outfield, could have taken its first lead.
Andre Larry (1-for-3, 2 RBIs) drove in Pate Broussard (2-for-3) with a single off Erath reliever Bren Faulk and Bubba Daigle’s run-scoring groundout scored Alex Ashby.
However, just when it appeared Crowley may take a 4-3 lead on Cameron Ledet’s sinking liner, Erath right fielder Erik Belanger quickly played the ball on one hop and threw to Baker at first base to end the inning.
“We shouldn’t have been in that situation to begin with,” said Crowley first-year coach Chad Credeur, whose team leads District 3-4A. “We had some bad at-bats early in the game, which put us behind. It shouldn’t have come down to that. That was the first time I’ve seen that. It was a great play on their part.”
Said Picard, “That was huge for us. Erik’s a senior and stepped up. He’s a smart kid who understood the situation, and we always teach to attack the baseball. He had the presence of mind to attack it and get that runner.”
Crowley reliever Blayne Sonnier shut out Erath for four innings before his 3-1 pitch hit lead-off batter Baker, who was sacrificed to second by Layne Faulk.
Belanger walked and Chandler LeBlanc (2-for-4) singled off reliever Bubba Daigle to load the bases.
Bren Faulk ran the count to 1-1 when Erath put Baker in motion down the third-base line on a suicide squeeze attempt only to have Daigle bounce the ball well in front of the plate, enabling Baker to score the game-winning run.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all year,” Picard said. “We’ve been able to put pressure on guys, and our kids continue to battle and fight and know what’s expected of them.”