ST. FRANCISVILLE — Brusly baseball coach Tait Dupont liked the sound of the words that were coming out of the mouth of starting pitcher Luke LeBlanc after his pregame warm up.
“He told me, ‘Coach you can call all three (pitches). I’m on,’ ” Dupont said of LeBlanc. “It’s awesome. I wish I could throw him every game.”
It took LeBlanc’s best to withstand a strong effort from his counterpart — Trey Morgan of No. 19 West Feliciana — and No. 9 Brusly proved opportunistic with a 3-1 Class 3A state quarterfinal victory Monday at West Feliciana Sports Park.
LeBlanc’s complete-game, four-hit effort helped propel Brusly (25-9) to the LHSAA state tournament for the second straight year where the Panthers face No. 2 Evangel, a 2-0 winner over St. Charles Catholic.
The state semifinal is scheduled at 6 p.m., Friday at Sulphur’s McMurry Park.
Back-to-back upset wins had West Feliciana (14-16) on the cusp of its first semifinal appearance in 26 years.
Morgan (5-3) was nearly LeBlanc’s equal, allowing three singles, four walks, three hit batsmen while striking out six. He threw 65 of 116 pitches for strikes but was ultimately undone by a trio of fielding errors the led to three unearned runs.
“Trey Morgan was outstanding today,” West Feliciana first-year coach Mark Lester said. “We knew Brusly was a great team … a good hitting team, and we knew we would have to bring our ‘A’ game. Trey gives us that best chance. He kept them off balance and threw some really good stuff.”
Brusly had two hits off Morgan until a fateful fifth inning broke a scoreless tie.
Northwestern State signee Kwanstan Adkins blooped a one-out single into shallow center, and Blake Manola drove center fielder Trey Bailey back to the deepest part of the field on a 3-1 offering.
Bailey tracked the ball off Manola’s bat only to have it glance off his glove for a two-base error, enabling Adkins to score. Manola also scored on the play after a throwing error at third.
“You don’t see him miss too many,” Dupont said. “I’ve seen him run down all kinds of stuff. That particular play it bounced out of the glove in our favor.”
LeBlanc (10-2) took a no-hitter into the fifth where he faced one batter over the minimum when Morgan singled to lead off the inning.
Courtesy runner Dillon Williams reached third on a pair of errors and scored on Noah Miller’s sacrifice fly on center.
“When it got close, I didn’t get nervous,” LeBlanc said. “You have to keep your composure out there and know the final goal.”
West Feliciana, which also turned two double plays in support of Morgan, had a lead-off single from Logan Pollmann in the sixth but pinch-runner Ross Bujol was thrown out at third trying to catch Brusly’s defense sleeping after Gage Tyress’ sacrifice.
On the play, first baseman Conner Clouatre atoned for his two errors in the fifth with a sharp throw to third baseman Austin Watts for a double play.
Brusly catcher Conner Manola also threw out a pair of potential base stealers at third base in the game, including the second out of the seventh when Kale Kirkland tried to advance on a double-steal attempt.
Noah Miller followed with an infield single and Zach Lester walked before LeBlanc got pinch-hitter Jazz Ferguson, an LSU football commitment, to pop up to shortstop Evan Daigle.
The Panthers took advantage of the Saints’ fifth error when Blake Manola scored in the seventh inning on an errant throw from catcher Aaron Holub that was intended for Morgan.
“He’s thrown against us before, he’s got a good arm, so I knew it would be a low scoring game,” said LeBlanc, who walked three and struck out six in a 98-pitch outing. “I knew I had to do my job so we could take it.”