Brother Martin’s baseball team finally broke its quarterfinal curse.
After getting sent home in the quarterfinal round of the Class 5A playoffs the past two seasons, the No. 14-seeded Crusaders finally broke through with a 6-4 win over Byrd at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium on Saturday, completing a sweep over the Yellow Jackets (22-17).
The Crusaders (24-11) advance to the semifinals, which will be played in Sulphur next week, for the first time since 2003.
They’ll face No. 2 Catholic of Baton Rouge on Friday.
“I’ve been on the team for four years, and we finally broke the curse,” Brother Martin catcher Jonathan Parker exclaimed after Saturday’s win. “It’s been a long ride with this group, and I love this team.”
After losing seven starters from last year’s 31-win team, Brother Martin coach Mark Wisniewski said that this year’s team fought through much adversity, but earned their spot in 5A’s final four.
“The last couple years we’ve got to the (quarterfinals) with some quality teams, but we kind of got stuck there,” Wisniewski said. “It was big for us mentally and physically to get past this round, and the guys did a great job competing.”
The Crusaders broke the game open in the fifth inning, batting through their entire lineup and getting a assistance from three Byrd errors during the inning.
With runners on first and third, Blair Frederick started things off the fifth for Brother Martin with an RBI single that cut the team’s deficit to 4-3. Jonathan Parker gave the Crusaders their first lead with a roaring two-run double that made the score 5-4.
Chase Dolly kept things going for the Crusaders with an RBI single that extended the team’s lead to 6-4 heading to the bottom of the fifth.
The Parker-Dolly combination came up huge in the batter’s box for the Crusaders, combining to go 4-for-7 at the plate with five of the Crusaders’ six RBIs.
“Coach (Wisniewski) kept telling us to hit the ball hard on the ground and something good was going to happen,” Dolly said. “We just wanted to do whatever the coaches told us to do, and luckily it worked out for us.”
Wyatt Broome got the scoring going in the first inning for the Yellow Jackets, smacking an RBI triple that snuck underneath the glove of Brother Martin left fielder Kyler Johnston and gave Byrd its first run of the game.
Two batters later, Andrew Suggs hit an RBI single to expand the Byrd lead to 2-0.
“The arms that Brother Martin has are really good,” Byrd coach Greg Williams said. “We’re a team that likes to get our leadoff runners on and get things going with bunts and stolen bases, but they didn’t allow us to do that. They have a great team, but our guys fought through a lot this year and I’m extremely proud of them.”
After struggling to get runners on base early, Brother Martin got some life from the bats of Dolly and Michael Kirsch.
The Crusaders’ five- and six-hole hitters smacked back-to-back RBI singles in the top of the fourth inning to tie the score at 2-2.
But Byrd answered in the bottom of the inning, leading off the inning with back-to-back hits, the second of which was an RBI double by Jacob Fossell. Two batters later, the Yellow Jackets lead grew to 4-2 following a balk from Brother Martin pitcher Keagan Gillies.
Gillies (4-1), a Tulane commitment, got the win for the Crusaders, pitching four innings while allowing four hits and four runs. He also had seven strikeouts and a walk.