WALKER — Had the Denham Springs baseball team lost its regular-season finale Thursday night at Walker, the Yellow Jackets would have had its fate in District 4-5A resting on the outcome of a game 10 miles away.
The Yellow Jackets left nothing to chance.
DSHS surged to an early five-run lead against Walker en route to a 9-2 victory, finishing 4-5A play with double-digit wins and claiming the district title by two games.
A loss by the Yellow Jackets and a victory by Central at Live Oak on Thursday would have created a tie atop the league standings.
Central fell anyway, but DSHS (24-9, 10-2) made sure it wouldn’t have mattered.
“It always helps to score early,” said DSHS catcher Kaleb Clarke, whose three-run homer in the first ignited the quick start. “It gives you some momentum, and something to build on.”
Clarke took aim at the left-field fence twice, adding a solo shot in the seventh to cap the scoring.
That’s the kind of night it was for a DSHS offense that produced eight of its nine runs via extra-base hits, with Walker starter Tyler Lockhart surrendering eight of those runs in five innings.
Two-run triples by Carl Guidry and Travis Swaggerty in the second and fifth innings were the other big blows.
Meanwhile, DSHS starter Mac Sceroler, who went the first 5.1 innings, and reliever Bailey Holstein combined to allow just four hits.
Walker’s only runs came when Bryce Brown drove home two runs with a double in the third, but then was caught in a rundown between second and third for the first out.
An inning later, Guidry threw out Landon LeBlanc at the plate as LeBlanc tried to score on Anthony Sunde’s two-out single to center.
Walker (18-15, 7-5) managed only two base runners the rest of the way.
“That three-run shot early (by Clarke) took a lot of pressure off and let Mac settle in,” Carroll said.
“If we could script it, that’s just about how you’d want to script it right there.”
If not for back-to-back one-run losses ahead of Thursday’s finale, Walker would have been in position to challenge Denham Springs for the 4-5A title Friday night.
Coach Randy Sandifer said the late season grind may have left Lockhart and his teammates a bit spent.
“I think because of the last two games, we looked emotionally drained,” Sandifer said. “We looked a little flat tonight.”
Despite the loss, Sandifer was hopeful Walker will receive a bid when the Class 5A playoffs are announced this weekend.
DSHS is a potential top-five seed.
“This is gravy right here winning the district championship,” Carroll said. “You’ve got to get as good a seed as you can so you can get playoff games at home, and the kids have been working really hard to get in this situation.”