St. Amant baseball coach Troy Templet was looking for a payoff to a challenging nondistrict schedule that featured having to face some talented pitchers.
One game into the District 5-5A schedule, the Gators showed they were already reaping the benefits.
St. Amant unleashed an 11-hit attack and scored seven times over the first two innings — highlighted by a five-run first — en route to a 12-5 victory Tuesday over Catholic High.
“There’s no guarantees in this game,” Templet said. “The guy (Kyle Candilora) we faced had a great ERA and was undefeated. We saw a lot of quality arms during the year and we won some and lost some. We learned from that as we go on and it all came together for us tonight.”
The second game of the league series moves to St. Amant at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
“We made some good pitches, but the credit goes to their hitters,” Catholic coach Brad Bass said. “Any time you put that many runs on the board with that many hits, you’ve got to give them credit. We’ll bounce back. We’ll be fine.”
St. Amant rocked Catholic starting pitcher Kyle Candilora (4-1) for seven runs on seven hits, knocking him out after two innings. The previously undefeated right-hander had a 0.48 earned run average.
Left fielder Justin Duhon (2-for-3), right fielder Slade Gaudin (2-3) and first baseman Tyler Dixon drove in three runs apiece with designated hitter Zachary Lipoma driving in two more.
“We’ve been waiting all week for district to start,” Duhon said. “We knew it was going to be a big game. It gives us a lot of confidence to beat Catholic.”
Catholic’s relief pitching kept the Bears (21-3) within striking distance, allowing a run over three innings of work, until St. Amant (12-9) extended its lead to 12-4 with four runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by Gaudin’s two-run double to the right-center gap.
“Give St. Amant some credit,” said Bass, whose team had a nine-game win streak snapped. “They came out and put a lot of hits on the board. When you do that you give yourself a chance to win.”
The catalyst in St. Amant’s commanding 7-1 lead through three innings was a five-run top of the first that featured three extra base hits.
The Gators had six consecutive batters reach base safely with Dixon doubling down the third-base line for two runs and Lipoma making it 5-0 with a two-run double to the wall in left.
Briggs Bourgeois, who reached base safely four times, drew a one-out walk in the second and scored ahead of Duhon’s homer — his third of the season.
Catholic cut into an 8-4 deficit with three runs in the fourth, keyed by Brandon Fairbanks’ bases-loaded, two-run single up the middle and Gregory Whalen tacked on a run-scoring double.
However, relief pitcher Hayden Mallory (1-0) inherited Whalen at second with no outs and went on to yield four hits over three innings, allowing only an unearned run. He walked four and struck out three.
“There were a lot of ebbs and flows in games and he created a good stop in momentum,” Templet said of Mallory. “It allowed us to have more confidence going into the next inning up four runs.”