All of the ingredients Destrehan’s baseball team needed for survival fell into place accordingly.
An early lead against a standout pitcher gave the Wildcats some much-needed momentum, and starting pitcher Cole Wilson cruised along through four innings.
Then disaster struck when severe control problems curtailed Wilson’s outing and eventually the team’s season.
No. 10 seed Destrehan endured a four-run outburst in the fifth inning, fueled by five walks which contributed directly to the Wildcats’ 6-2 loss and a sweep by seventh-seeded Denham Springs in the best-of-three Class 5A state regional series on Sunday in Denham Springs.
“Unfortunately that’s been our Achilles heel all season,” Destrehan coach Chris Mire said. “We have (bad) one inning, and when you’re playing against a good team like Denham Springs, it costs you. We talked about that before series and how we had to avoid that.”
Destrehan (27-9), which dropped the opening game of the series 10-2, was attempting to reach the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.
Four innings into the game, the Wildcats were on track to force a third and decisive game, thanks in part to a run-scoring triple from Nathan Pilutti with Brandon Wild aboard. Kohen Granier followed with a run-scoring single to right field before winning pitcher Bailey Holstein responded with three straight outs to close the inning.
Wilson (7-2) was in total command of a Denham Springs offense that scored 10 runs on eight hits a day earlier. He hadn’t allowed a hit until Travis Swaggerty’s one-out infield single in the fourth.
After 48 pitches, things unraveled rather quickly in the fifth for Martin, who allowed a lead-off single to Matt Erwin and was subsequently called his second balk of the game.
Whether that was the culprit, Mire wasn’t certain, but he agonizingly watched Martin walk the next four batters, two of which were with the bases loaded to tie the game.
Martin labored during a 22-pitch inning, which included 16 balls, before being replaced by Nolan Lemoine, who induced a double-play grounder that forced in another run. He also allowed a run-scoring to left by Swaggerty to make it 4-2.
“I feel bad for Cole because he’s been great for us all season, but that one inning seemed to get him,” Mire said. “We knew what to expect coming in, and we’ve got to be mentally tough to work out of that and survive, and we didn’t do that.”
Destrehan had three of its five hits in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with singles from Louis Kieffer, Miles Patureau and Dane Simon with one out.
Holstein (9-0) answered by getting Connor Caminita to foul out and Brennan Breaux to fly out to center to end the threat before Denham Springs (25-7) added single runs in the sixth and seventh inning.
“We had an opportunity in the second inning to get a few more and credit to him,” Mire said of Holstein said. “He always seems to work out of that jam. I hope our guys learned by watching him. He survived his tough spot and only gave up two. We gave up four, and that’s your ball game.”