For the third time in four seasons, Riverside Academy is back in the quarterfinals.
Riverside jumped out to an early lead and went on to beat St. Thomas Aquinas 5-4 on Wednesday in the regional round of the Class 2A baseball playoffs.
The Rebels, the No. 3 seed, improved to 19-9.
They advance to the quarterfinals to play No. 22 seed Runnels, which upset sixth-seeded Haynes Academy 7-2 on Wednesday.
Not bad for a Riverside team that was 3-9 midway through March.
Rebels coach Matt White never panicked,
“It was a rough start,” White said. “I told my principal and A.D. about the tough schedule we had set up. But I knew once we got through the storm, we were going to be ok. We came out of the storm a little wet, but we have been playing some pretty good baseball lately.”
Freshman Mason Vicknair went the distance, scattering six hits and striking out four.
Riverside led 5-0 before Vicknair gave up a three-run homer in the sixth and another run in the seventh.
Vicknair helped his cause by going 3-for-4.
Rebels’ sophomore leadoff batter Tyler Gauthier also went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles.
T. J. St. Pierre, a junior, was 2-for-4 with a double.
The defense was splendid as well, turning double plays in the first two innings.
“We made some great defensive plays all game and got out of there with a big win,” White said. “We settled down and played our style of baseball.”
White, in his fourth season in charge of the Rebels, isn’t surprised by his team’s success.
The Rebels reached the quarterfinals in his first season, the championship game his second season and the regional round last season.
“This is nothing new for us,” White said. “This program has been around for a while and we expect to win.”