Country Day struck first offensively and turned in a defensive gem — all in the first inning.
It was the type of opening the Cajuns were looking for, but were unable to sustain.
No. 10 CLA snapped a 1-1 tie with a five-run fourth inning and pitcher Michael Stinson went on to a complete-game victory in a 7-3 triumph Thursday over Country Day in a Class 1A playoff game in Baton Rouge.
“We just didn’t do enough,” Country Day coach Sam Dozier said. “You have to give them credit. They had a lot of energy. We just didn’t put enough pressure on them.”
Country Day (8-10) led 1-0 when CLA center fielder Jacob Williams couldn’t find Briggs Ham’s ball in the sun and allowed Grant Mathews to score from second.
The Cajuns also executed defensively in the bottom of the inning when the home-standing Crusaders attempted to tie the game. Designated hitter Davis Williams launched a double to deep center fielder, where Jase Griffin’s relay to second baseman Brett Leal was on the money. Leal’s throw to the plate was in time for catcher Michael Hickey to tag out Jason Harris.
Country Day was unable to add to its lead, though, stranding three of four base runners in scoring position in the first two innings against Stinson, who allowed six hits and overpowered the Cajuns at times with 11 strikeouts.
Sophomore starter Christian Kerut (2-2) limited CLA to three hits through three innings before the Crusaders (16-11) erupted for five runs on three hits after two were out in the fourth.
A run-scoring groundout broke the 1-1 tie and lead-off hitter Sterling O’Brien singled for two more runs and a 4-1 lead. The Cajuns’ second error of the game resulted in a pair of unearned runs.
Kerut left after 3.2 innings, giving up seven hits, six runs (four earned), walked two and struck out two. Griffin finished the last 2.1 innings, allowing a run on two hits and striking out two.
Ham drove in his second run of the game with a deep sacrifice fly to center, while the Cajuns took advantage of an error to close to 6-3 when Mathews scored.
“We competed and I’m proud of that,” Dozier said. “Baseball’s about not giving up the big inning. Once you lose the momentum against a very good pitcher it’s very difficult to come back.”