For Jesuit coach Joe Latino, the Blue Jays’ baseball season ended Saturday swinging on the big and the small.
West Monroe answered Jesuit’s only run of the game with a run of its own in the sixth inning and continued it mastery of small ball Saturday as the Rebels defeated the Jays 3-1 in a regional playoff game at John Ryan Stadium.
West Monroe (28-9) won the best-of-three series in two games. The District 2-5A champions have won 19 of their past 20 games and now move on to play at No. 1 seed Sulphur next week in the quarterfinals.
“We scored (in the top of the sixth to make it a 2-1 Rebel lead) and we had a shot,” Latino said. “Then they punched that run across in the bottom of the inning, which was big.”
Landon Mims led off the Rebels’ sixth with a single and was sacrificed to second by Eric Bishop. Dylan Snowden then smacked a 3-2 pitch back through the middle to make it a 3-1 game.
That run “changes your strategy” for the seventh inning, Latino said. “If we get our leadoff man on, we can do a number of things to try to tie the game.”
Jesuit (25-9) did get its leadoff hitter on to start the seventh.
Trailing 3-1, Brandon Briuglio led off with a single against reliever Dustin Mitchell. Mitchell retired the next two hitters, but Scott Crabtree worked him for a walk, putting the tying run on base.
Dan Edmund then lined a fastball right back through the middle, but it landed in the glove of shortstop Snowden, who was perfectly placed a couple of steps to the left of second base to end the game and series.
The Jays stranded 11 base runners.
Mitchell, who closed out West Monroe’s 9-7 Friday night win, had his second save of the series. Mitchell threw first-pitch strikes to six of the eight batters he faced in his 1.2 innings.
“He’s a competitor,” West Monroe coach Wade Simoneaux said. “He pounds the strike zone and gets to where we need to be.”
“It seemed line every time we hit one on the screws, they had someone standing right there,” Latino said. “Credit them ... they knew where to play us.”
Snowden had two hits and drove in a pair of runs for the Rebels. The only time he was retired Saturday came when Jesuit shortstop Alex Galy robbed him of a base hit.
Snowden also had two hits and accounted for two runs in Friday’s win.
Snowden “is an unselfish player,” Simoneaux said. “Actually he was a bench player earlier in the year. I moved him to short ... and that made our team.”
Jesuit scored in the sixth when Edmund walked with one out.
After two were out, Nick Ray singled and Harrison Daste’s single drove home Edmund. Galy was retired on a deep fly ball to right.
“Credit them,” said Latino. “They’re solid, they’re fundamentally sound. They’re pesky hitters and tough outs. They play the game extremely well.”