BRUSLY — While visiting Erath closed Tuesday’s Class 3A state regional with a pair of heart-stopping runs in the top of the seventh, Brusly actually molded its 4-3 triumph several innings earlier.
Thanks to senior right-handed pitcher Luke LeBlanc working out of back-to-back, bases-loaded jams in the fourth and fifth innings, the No. 6 Panthers only trailed by a run and kept the No. 11 Bobcats at arm’s length.
Brusly responded in the bottom of the fourth, taking a 2-1 lead on consecutive extra-base hits from Austin Watts and Landon Andre. The Panthers added two more runs in the sixth and held on when Evan Daigle relieved LeBlanc to nail down the save.
Brusly (24-8) travels in quarterfinal action against District 7-3A counterpart, No. 19 West Feliciana, which took a wild 15-14 win over third-seeded E.D. White.
“I would much rather him not be in trouble to begin with, but he does have a knack for doing that,” Brusly coach Tait Dupont said of LeBlanc, who had 11 strikeouts. “He’s a senior, and that’s what seniors do. They battle and don’t care if the bases are loaded or nobody’s on. They’re going to throw the ball the same way.”
Erath (18-12) took a 1-0 lead in the third on a base hit from Jesse Jordan, who went 4-for-4 and led the Bobcats’ 12-hit output. The Bobcats had eight hits through four innings and loaded the bases in the fourth and fifth with one out.
LeBlanc (9-2) overcame three straight singles to get Alec Toups striking out swinging and Tyler Touchet looking.
Two walks and a bunt help Erath threaten only to have LeBlanc coax Brett Delcambre into fouling out and Drew Primeaux into striking out on a full count.
“I thought our approach was real good and set the table and got people on,” Erath coach David Jordan said. “We just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it. I thought we could have built a good lead in the middle innings and couldn’t do it.”
Erath starter Ross Granger (4-2) limited Brusly to one single through three innings until the Panthers seemed to feed off of LeBlanc’s heroics.
Watts (2-3) tied the game with a two-out, run-scoring double to left and Andre laced a triple into the gap in right-center.
Daigle doubled to lead off the sixth and chased Granger in favor of Delcambre. LeBlanc greeted Erath’s reliever with a run-scoring single and pinch-hitter Landon Blank had what turned into a key sacrifice fly with courtesy runner Zach Bellelo scoring on a close play at the plate.
LeBlanc, who threw 73 of 114 pitches for strikes, retired seven straight batters until Erath staged its comeback with consecutive two-out doubles from Jesse Jordan and Jace Harrington. Delcambre (2-4) welcomed Daigle with another RBI-double before Daigle struck out Primeaux swinging.
“We talked about how good they were,” Dupont said of Erath. “We knew they had beaten some good teams, and David does an excellent job. We knew it was going to be tough. That it would be this type of game.”