BENTON — Benton baseball coach J.D. Stephens said he kept hearing the same thing about LHSAA Class 4A state quarterfinal opponent St. Michael the Archangel: That team can hit.
That’s exactly what the No. 5 seed Warriors did en route to an 11-0, five-inning win against No. 4 Benton on Monday.
St. Michael struck for 10 runs in the first two innings and will make its first state tournament appearance since 2011. The Warriors will face No. 1 seed St. Thomas More at 7 p.m. Thursday in Sulphur.
St. Michael coach Johnny Bernhard said he thought Benton’s Aaron Henigan, who allowed all 10 runs (eight earned) on 10 hits in 1.2 innings, didn’t throw poorly. The Warriors just hit well.
“The Henigan kid is a tough pitcher; we just felt like we executed,” Bernhard said. “We came out and were prepared, and we got it done. Our offense has been strong all season long, along with our pitching. It’s just been getting our defense to do its part, and we turned (two) double plays today.”
After Zach Harris singled in a run in the first, Wade Broussard highlighted the inning with a two-run single for a 3-0 lead.
The Warriors scored seven runs in the second, including four consecutive at-bats that produced runs. Christopher Reid had an RBI double followed by an Austin Edens two-run double, a John Thomas Maudlin RBI triple and a Harris RBI groundout.
Broussard capped the inning with a two-run homer with two outs to push the lead to 10-0. Broussard (2-for-3, four RBIs), Harris (two RBIs) and Edens (two RBIs and two runs) led an offense in which eight players combined for 12 hits.
“Tip your hat to St. Michael; they came out and swung early,” Stephens said. “Henigan is going to go out on a loss, but my goodness, the career he’s had. ...
“Call me crazy: The stuff Henigan has done for three years — and if I had to do it all over again with a blank slate — Henigan goes back out there again.”
Benton stranded seven runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the first and third.
St. Michael pitcher Dylan McElroy surrendered just two hits and two walks. He recorded one of his six strikeouts to end the first inning with three Tigers on base, and the Warriors came through with one of their two double plays in the third with the bases loaded.