WATSON — Staving off a late inning rally, 10th-seeded Live Oak was able to notch an 8-7 win over East Ascension in a thrilling game one of the regional series.
“We’ve been in some tight games this year,” Live Oak coach Greg Briggs said. “That was a great baseball game and it’s a shame that either team had to lose.”
The 26th-seeded Spartans will have a chance to stave off elimination at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Live Oak as the two teams meet for the second time in the best-of-three series.
“We still have baseball left,” East Ascension coach Mike Toups said. “We have to get home and get some rest and be ready to respond in the second game.”
With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning, the Spartans had an opportunity to tie or take the lead, but relief pitcher Lenni Kunert struck out Layne Trahan to seal the Game 1 victory.
Kunert took over with one out in the fifth inning for starting pitcher Zach Hansen who gave up five runs, but struck out nine batters to just three walks in his first career playoff start.
“He was a little shaky at first but responded well,” said Briggs. “But he showed his maturity and kept us in the game.”
Gage Lockwood provided the offensive spark for Spartans. Having already knocked in a run with a double in the first inning, the senior second baseman erased a 3-1 deficit in the third inning when he blasted a three-run home run off starting pitcher Austin McInnis in the third inning to give Live Oak its first lead of the game.
“He’s hitting in the four hole and he’s a senior so we expect that from him,” Briggs said of Lockwood. “He did a great job at the plate and had some clutch at bats.”
McInnis lasted 4.2 innings. He struck out four, but four walks and 4 errors behind him led to seven allowed runs.
Trailing by a run in the top of the fifth, East Asccension’s Baron Leblanc lined a single to right field to end a streak of 11 straight hitters retired by Hansen.
Two batters later, the Spartans retook the lead on an opposite field home run by junior Kade Waguespack.
However, Waguespack would give those two runs right back in the bottom half of the inning when he let a fly ball hit by Jared Forrest bounce off his glove, allowing two runs to score.
Forrest then scored from third on a Brady Morris sacrifice bunt to give the Eagles a 7-5 lead.
“We made a few mistakes but were still in the game,” Toups said.
“That’s part of baseball, we made the mistakes but couldn’t overcome them.”