Alexandria Senior High baseball coach Joey Lee saw enough of Catholic High in an abbreviated game to realize the Bears are a team built for the long haul.
“As a group you can’t ask for better than what they’ve got,” Lee said. “I think they’re going to be there at the end.”
No. 2 Catholic High fit the bill with an offensive barrage, touched off by a six-run opening outburst, which was enough for pitcher Ross Massey to work with in a 13-3 run-rule victory Tuesday over No. 31 Alexandria.
The Class 5A first-round playoff game was shortened after Brian Fairbanks’ run-scoring single enabled the Bears (32-3) to invoke the mercy rule with three runs on five hits in the inning.
Catholic advances to Friday’s best-of-three regional series where they’ll host the winner of Wednesday’s Rummel-Holy Cross game.
“You’ve got to give credit to our hitters,” said Catholic baseball coach Brad Bass, whose team won its 11th straight game.
“A bunch of guys got hits. Anytime you can get 15 hits together and 13 runs, you’ve got to be real proud.”
Five players registered multiple hits and RBIs led by third baseman Hayden Mixon (3-for-4) with a pair of homers and two RBIs.
LSU commitment Josh Smith (2-3) also homered and drove in two runs, along with Charles Soileau (3-4, two RBIs), Simon Prevot (2-4, two RBIs) and Matt Crapanzano (2-2, double, two RBIs).
“I think that’s the most hits we’ve gotten in a game,” Mixon said. “Hopefully we can get more hits in the next game and keep it going.”
Catholic took its challenge against Alexandria’s 6-foot-7 junior right-handed starter Matthew Beck, an LSU commitment, to heart with a momentum-changing first at-bat.
Smith homered — his fourth of the year — with Cole Johnson aboard, and Mixon followed with another homer one pitch later for a 3-0 lead.
Beck (5-3) came in armed with am 85-87 mph fastball but couldn’t slow down the Bears, who batted around in the first with Bo Branch capping the six-run, six-hit outburst with a RBI-single to right field.
Beck, who threw 41 of his 98 pitches in the opening inning, was tagged for 10 runs on 10 hits. He walked three and struck out three in four innings.
“That’s the hardest he’s been hit this year,” Lee said. “He left some balls up, but they’re a great hitting team.”
Mixon launched another solo homer — his fifth of the season — over the batter’s eye in center field in the second inning for a 7-1 advantage.
“That’s never happened for me before,” Mixon said of his first multi-homer game. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Catholic scored three times in each of the fourth and fifth innings with Fairbanks’ RBI single closing the game with two outs.
Massey (9-0) threw 80 pitches in five innings. The Tulane signee yielded four hits, three earned runs, walked four and struck out five.
“What’s good was getting out of that game in the fifth and not letting his pitch count get up,” Bass said. “(Tuesday) this day goes to the hitters.”