Catholic High and Denham Springs both picked up a few votes in this week’s Class 5A high school baseball poll, and they went at each other in exciting fashion at Catholic’s Grizzly Field on Tuesday, going eight innings before Catholic pulled out an 8-7 win.
Jordan Romero’s sacrifice fly drove in Hunter D’Armand with the winning run after Denham Springs put themselves in a tough situation with two errors to open the eighth inning.
“We’d played pretty good defense up to that time, but this is a brutal game,” Denham Springs coach Mark Carroll said.
“You make mistakes like that, they bite you. The good thing is that you learn not to make those mistakes. It’s a very unforgiving game.”
The Bears nearly won in regulation, loading the bases with one out in the seventh, but the Yellow Jackets turned a double play to force an extra inning.
Denham Springs owned the first three innings, piling up a 6-0 lead, before Catholic dominated the last three, 7-1, to knot the game at seven.
Clutch hitting by Denham Springs and key errors by Catholic High put Catholic in an early hole.
The Yellow Jackets chased Catholic starter Ben Braymer in the second on their way to a 5-0 lead and turned the game over to righthander Chantz Landry.
Braymer mowed down the first two batters he faced in the first inning on eight pitches, seven of them strikes, before Bryce Dugas drew a walk. Kaleb Clarke ended the inning with a long fly ball that right fielder Corey Free gathered in just before colliding with center fielder Ross Massey.
Coomes touched Yellow Jackets starter Chantz Landry for a single in the bottom of the first and made it to third on a steal and a wild pitch before Corey Free grounded out to end the inning.
Denham Springs scored three runs before Catholic could record an out in the second inning. Those runs came on consecutive singles by Zach Borne and Austin Thomas, a wild throw to first by Braymer on a sacrifice attempt, and a double to the base of the wall in left field by designated hitter Benton Lieux.
Lieux added another run on a fielder’s choice ground ball by Andrew Ayres, who later scored on Catholic’s second error of the inning.
“We know they’re always well-coached, and their kids play so hard,” Catholic coach Brad Bass said. “They came out the first three innings and popped us in the mouth pretty good. I told them in the third we were in a five-round title fight. I’m proud of the way they came back.
“Paul Roppollo has been a solid guy. He’s a senior pitcher, and he’s going to pitch for Loyola next year. He’s been a starter, but we know when it’s a tough point, he’s a tough guy. He showed that tonight.”
Roppollo held the Jackets to two runs over the last 6.1 innings.
Catholic came to life in the fourth inning, scoring three times to cut the lead to 6-3. The big hit in the inning was a two-run double by Austin Sulik. Hunter D’Armand knocked in Sulik two batters later with a two-out single.
After Lieux drove in Thomas with a triple in the top of the fifth, Catholic struck for three more runs in the bottom of the inning.
Landry hit Josh Smith and Nick Coomes to open the inning. Jordan Romero followed with a two-run double and scored on a hit by Austin Divillier.
Smith tied the game in the bottom of the sixth with a home run over the right-field fence.