BRUSLY — What would have been the game-ending strikeout from Brusly’s Evan Daigle with two outs in the bottom of the seventh took a turn for the worse.
North Vermilion’s Seth Patin safely reached first base when his swinging strike of Daigle’s final pitch caromed high off home plate and into the stands.
“Unbelievable,” Brusly baseball coach Tait Dupont said. “We strike out the guy to end the game, and it bounces over the backstop. That’s telling you that luck’s not in your favor today.”
No. 10 seed North Vermilion capped its three-run rally in the seventh, drawing consecutive walks with the bases loaded to the tie game, and Ryan Meaux’s two-run double in the eighth provided the Patriots with a dramatic 7-5 victory Tuesday over seventh-seeded Brusly in a Class 3A state regional playoff game.
“We fought and gave us a chance at the end,” North Vermilion coach Jeremy Trahan said. “We were down by three with two outs and kept believing and kept getting guys on base.”
North Vermilion (24-5) advances to its second quarterfinal in three years and will host second-seeded John Curtis, a 6-2 winner over Jena, tentatively Sunday.
Brusly (23-10), a state semifinalist the past two years, appeared primed to move on when starting pitcher Austin Reich recorded the first two outs in the seventh.
However, three consecutive singles from the 7-8-9 hitters in their lineup, capped by Charlie Gallusser’s RBI-single to left field pulled the Patriots within 5-3.
That signaled the end for Reich, a Northwestern State signee, who battled control problems all game and left in favor of Daigle after throwing 77 of 139 pitches for strikes. He yielded seven hits, five runs (four earned) but walked a season-high 10 and struck out one.
With Patin safely aboard, North Vermilion had the bases loaded, and Connor Dupuy walked on a 3-1 count and Ty Desormeaux capped a nine-pitch at-bat with a full-count walk, tying the game at 5-all.
“Pitching and defense are our strengths, and we didn’t do very well (Tuesday) and still had opportunities to win at the end,” Dupont said referring to his team’s four errors. “We just didn’t get the clutch hit.”
Meaux (7-1) pitched two-hit relief over three innings after entering for starter Donald Comeaux, a Louisiana-Lafayette signee. He stranded two runners at second in the sixth and seventh and worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, getting Daigle to bounce into a fielder’s choice.
Meaux, who had four of his team’s 10 hits, was also the hitting star in the eighth, greeting reliever Connor Clouatre with a two-run double to the gap in left-center field, scoring Chance Carriere, who singled and Ryan Thompson, who was hit by a pitch.
Despite walking seven through five innings and his defense committing three of its four errors, Reich stranded nine of 17 base runners and allowed Brusly to grab a 3-2 lead on a pair of unearned runs when Connor Manola’s ball to right was misplayed into a two-run double.
The Panthers extended their lead to 5-2 with two runs in the fifth on a wild pitch and Todd Gauthe’s fielder’s choice.
“You never know with baseball,” Trahan said. “Some days you’re going to come to the park and you’re not going to have your best stuff. That’s why you play it. That’s why I’m glad we kept fighting.”