SULPHUR — Family Christian definitely had that feeling of déjà vu. And the Flames can’t complain about the championship view.
Ben Chauvin tossed a four-hitter and claimed Outstanding Player honors for the second straight season as Family Christian notched its second consecutive Class C crown with a 7-2 victory over Claiborne Christian at McMurry Park.
Chauvin had two strikeouts, walked only one and worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth in the first game Saturday at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Baseball Tournament for Class 4A, 3A, B and C.
In 2012, FCA (26-4) defeated Monroe-based Claiborne by a similar 7-1 margin in the final. The two runs scored by CCS were the first top-seeded FCA allowed in the playoffs.
“I really thought we had walked into the twilight zone,” Family Christian coach Rick Smith said. “It was amazing … eerily similar. We try to have a lot of bullets in the chamber, because you never know when something is going to go south.
“You want to have more than one way to win. They (FCA players) showed another side of us I knew was there. We had to manufacture them (runs) today. It was a total team effort.”
No player had more than one hit for the Flames. Titus Rogers and Trae Steudlein each scored two runs. JJ Holmes had two RBIs for a FCA team that faced three Claiborne pitchers.
“Baseball is a team game, and today it was for a state championship,” Rogers said. “Coach (Smith) always talks about momentum, and we had it. If I’m the one who gets the offense started, someone else keeps it going. We follow each other.”
Claiborne finished 12-19. The Crusaders’ Drake Purdy, who finished 2-for-3, was the only player with multiple hits.
“Maybe the first two or three runs they scored were unearned,” Claiborne coach Chad Olinde said. “But they (the Flames) are a great club. Rick does a great job and has a great group.”
An error and a timely hit gave Family Christian a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Holmes reached on an error with one out and went to second when Chauvin walked. Mason Diaz’s single scored Holmes.
Wesley Drake came on in relief of starter Zach Osbon for Claiborne in the bottom of the second. Osbon, a Northeast Texas Junior College signee, threw more than 100 pitches in Friday’s eight-inning semifinal win over Elizabeth.
With one out, Rogers drew a walk from Drake. He stole second, advanced to third on groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
Chauvin, an LSU-Eunice signee, retired the first nine batters before giving up a leadoff single to Osbon to open the Claiborne fourth. Osbon was caught stealing, but a walk and two errors put runners on first and third with two outs. Chauvin got a groundout to end the threat.
“I had a great defense behind me that made some outstanding plays … plays that average teams don’t make,” Chauvin said.
“I was pitching to contact. I let my defense work behind me. It (second straight title) is a great way to go out.”
The Flames added three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Rogers singled with one out and scored on Steudlein’s double. Steudlein went to third on Michael Hopkins’ flyout and scored on a single by Tyler Randall. Randall stole second and third and gave the Flames a 5-0 lead on a single by Holmes.
Purdy led off the CCS sixth with a single and scored on a groundout by Drake. Chauvin worked out of a bases-loaded jam by retiring Drake and Cody Jordan on groundouts.
FCA added two runs in the sixth. Steudlein walked and Michael Hopkins was hit by a pitch. Randall walked to load the bases. A groundout by Holmes scored one run; the second scored on a passed ball.
Dillon Ogle singled and scored on Purdy’s second hit before Chauvin got a groundout to end the game.