The Brother Martin baseball team set a school record for wins and captured a Catholic League title this season.
But the Crusaders’ win total was halted at 31, and the quest for a state championship ended on Sunday at First NBC Park on the UNO campus.
Brother Martin was unable to come up with timely hits and wasn’t nearly as sharp as normal in a 10-6 loss to Live Oak in decisive Game 3 of the Class 5A quarterfinals.
The Crusaders (31-6) lost in the quarterfinals for a second straight year after falling to Sam Houston in 2013.
“I’m proud of my guys,” Brother Martin coach Mark Wisniewski said. “We had a great year with 31 wins, and we had a district title. That’s a positive thing. It’s obviously not ending up where we wanted it to end up, and that’s what hurts.”
Live Oak, which reached the quarterfinals for the first time as a 5A school, advances to the semifinals in Sulphur to play Jesuit.
The Eagles (30-9) used a big second inning to key Sunday’s victory and spoil any chances of an all-Catholic League semifinal.
It came right after Brother Martin took a 1-0 lead in the first.
Daniel Lahare jumpstarted Brother Martin with a leadoff triple in the first and scored on Jarrett Gongora’s RBI single.
But the Eagles answered with five runs in the second inning on five hits. Gage Lockwood’s infield single to start the inning got things going. Jared Forrest then reached on a bunt. Zach Hansen’s sacrifice fly to left field drove in the first run and was followed by Colby Freneaux’s RBI double. Freneaux scored on a balk, and the Eagles also got RBI singles from Tyler Alexander and Justin Webb.
“That’s the way we tend to work,” said Freneaux, a junior designated hitter. “One guy starts it off and everybody just follows.”
That inning proved to be costly for the Crusaders.
“We made some mistakes that we needed to take care of and that would have got us to the dugout at worst, down two runs,” Wisniewski said. “That’s something we needed to do, but we just didn’t do it.”
Live Oak stretched its lead to 8-3 in the fifth on Freneaux’s two-run double.
A huge pinch hit double by Brother Martin’s Kevin Stretzinger cut it to 8-5 in the fifth. But it was as close as the Crusaders would get, despite one last-ditch comeback attempt in the seventh when it trailed 10-5.
Brother Martin’s first two batters in the seventh walked and the third batter was hit by a pitch, but the Crusaders were able to get just one run in the inning before Greg Deichmann hit a pop up to end it.
Brother Martin stranded 12 runners in the game. The Crusaders had nine hits on Sunday after getting just four hits total on Saturday when the teams split the first two games of the series. Brother Martin won the first game 6-2 before losing the second one 2-0.
“We talked about how the pitching has carried us all year,” Live Oak coach Greg Briggs said. “At some point in a big game, we were going to have to swing the bats.”
Live Oak finished with 12 hits on Sunday. Forrest had three hits, while Michael Claverle, Webb and Freneaux had two hits each. Freneaux also had four RBIs.
“We had a lot of big 2-out hits and a lot people came through in the clutch today,” Freneaux said. “We knew what we wanted to do when we came over here on Friday. We knew what the job was and we accomplished it.”
Lahare went 3-for-5 to lead Brother Martin, and Gongora was 2-for-5. Deichmann, an LSU signee, had two RBIs.
Andrew Boucvalt started on the mound and lasted two innings before being replaced by Luke Bernard.
The game was delayed for 29 minutes and the field was covered with tarp right after the top of the sixth inning because of possible rain. But Briggs said his team never was bothered by the weather that caused the series to be pushed back to Sunday after Friday night’s postponement.
“Before we came down here, we talked about how we were going to have to be mentally tough,” Briggs said. “The team that was more mentally tough was going to win the series.”