DENHAM SPRINGS — There was nothing about his team’s 3-2 lead through five innings that put Northshore baseball coach Rick Mauldin at ease.
One inning later Mauldin’s worst fears were realized.
No. 7 Denham Springs rallied with three runs on four hits after two out in the bottom of the sixth to knock No. 26 Northshore out of the Class 5A state playoffs 5-3 on Wednesday at A.B. Netterville Field.
“I was not comfortable one bit,” Mauldin said. “But it was a good high school game. We have nothing to hang our heads about.”
Northshore, the District 6-5A champion, led 1-0 and 3-2 but couldn’t get out of the sixth inning in time to avoid Denham Springs’ late-game charge.
Losing pitcher Gary Cavollo (6-4) escaped bases-loaded situations in the first and fifth innings but couldn’t avoid further trouble in the sixth.
Denham Springs (23-7) put together four consecutive hits with pitcher Bailey Holstein’s double to deep center doing the most damage, driving in a pair of runs that gave the Yellow Jackets the lead back at 4-3.
Jonah Overland capped the inning with a run-scoring triple to the gap in left-center field that also chased Cavollo. He allowed nine hits, five earned runs and walked five.
“He made just a couple of little mistakes,” Mauldin said. “He hung a fastball and (Travis) Swaggerty hit it out and then to the fourth-hole batter (Holstein). You can’t make a mistake to him.”
Northshore (21-11) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Blake Way singled with two outs and eventually scored from third on a wild pitch.
Way (3-for-3, RBI) and Hunter Campbell (2-for-3, RBI) combined for five of the Panthers’ seven hits.
Northshore overcame a 2-1 deficit after three innings after Swaggerty’s two-run homer to regain a 3-2 edge with two runs in the fourth.
Way skied a ball into a tough left field sun that Overland was unable to locate, enabling Way to reach third when the ball dropped just inside the foul line on the warning track.
That play brought in JD Evans with the tying run and a RBI single up the middle by Campbell gave Northshore its third run after two outs.
The Panthers maintained that lead thanks to a pair of sterling defensive plays from second baseman Maxwell Meeker on a diving stab of a sinking liner in shallow right field to end the fourth.
Way, who later pitched after Cavollo departed, showed off his range and arm deep in the hole at shortstop for the second out in the sixth.
“It’s sad two good teams had to meet in the first round and eliminate one,” Mauldin, whose team had won 12 of its past 14 games. “If you wanted to watch a good high school baseball game, you needed to be in Denham Springs (Wednesday night).”