In the past eight games, the Riverside Academy baseball team has been rolling, reeling off eight consecutive victories — with double-digit scoring in all eight.
Despite its recent hot streak, the Rebels found themselves in a scoreless tie through six innings against Newman on Wednesday, but Frank Cazeaux delivered a consistent message to the team in the deciding moments of the game.
“If they don’t score, they can’t win,” the Riverside coach said.
Riverside starting pitcher Jordan Loving made sure of that, throwing a shutout that allowed the Rebels to wait for a late-game outburst before they ran away with a 6-0 victory at Audubon Park’s Avenger Field.
With the win, the Rebels (14-10) improved their record to 5-0 in District 10-2A, clinching the league crown.
“We just kept plugging away, and I told the guys we needed them to play great on defense — and they did,” Cazeaux said.
“This is the time of the year where we have to start reaching our peak. We just have to keep it going.”
Loving (3-2), a freshman who doubles as the starting quarterback for the football team, was steady on the mound for the Rebels throughout the game, allowing three hits and no runs in seven innings and striking out nine.
After giving up two hits in the first inning, Loving retired 16 of the next 18 batters he faced — walking two — and didn’t allow another hit until Newman third baseman Cass Lapeyre hit a single in the seventh.
“In a game like this, it’s definitely important to be mentally tough,” Loving said. “Our defense did a great job, making diving plays and getting a double play in the first inning. Then our guys did a great job getting some big hits for us late.”
Newman starting pitcher Allen Dennis did his part to limit the potent bats in the Riverside lineup, pitching a scoreless six innings, but once Newman turned to Jack Miller to take over in the top of the seventh, the Riverside offense finally woke up.
Brandon Hymel started Riverside’s seventh-inning surge with a bases-loaded walk, followed by Loving getting hit with a pitch to bring in another run.
Brandon Morris gave the Rebels their first RBI hit of the day with a soaring two-run double that crashed against the center-field wall and gave Riverside a 4-0 lead.
The Rebels added two more runs in the inning. A sacrifice fly by Evan Veron and a throwing error by the Greenies set the deciding margin.
“I feel like we’re on fire,” Loving said. “We’re all the little things right, we’re putting in the work day in and day out. We just have to keep it up.”
Riverside, who came into Wednesday’s game ranked No. 7 in the LHSAA’s most recent power rankings, will complete its three games series against No. 11 Newman on Sunday at 4 p.m.
The Greenies fell to Riverside last Sunday 10-0.