DUTCHTOWN — Catholic High baseball coach Brad Bass really didn’t want to tempt fate.
From the first inning, the Bears held a two-run lead until the fifth inning, when Dutchtown made a late charge to try to split their District 5-5A baseball series.
That’s when reliever Nathan Bell replaced starter Brian Fairbanks with a one-run lead in the sixth and retired all six batters he faced, enabling Catholic to preserve a 3-2 victory Saturday over Dutchtown at Griffin Field.
“I was a little worried,” Bass said. “We sat on the lead, which is usually a cardinal sin in this game. You have to give a lot of credit to the defensive plays made and the pitching.”
Catholic (24-5, 7-1) won its second one-run game of the week and swept Dutchtown (18-11, 5-3) after the Bears took a 7-4 home victory Thursday.
Catholic’s bases-loaded, none-out situation in the top of the first against Dutchtown starter Britton Benoit resulted in a 2-0 lead on Tristan Welch’s RBI-groundout and Daniel Guilbeau’s sacrifice fly.
“A lot of credit goes to our guys for coming out and being able to set the tone against such a quality opponent,” Bass said. “With teams like this, you’ve got to put runs on the board.”
Dutchtown answered in the first with two hits against Fairbanks and made it 2-1 with an run on a fielding error.
While Catholic added a run in the third on Welch’s sacrifice fly, Benoit (2-3) gave up four hits and four walks. He also struck out three in an 84-pitching outing over 4.2 innings before Marshall Saucier and Caleb Ricca finished up.
“I feel like we became a better team throughout the course of the game,” Dutchtown coach Chris Schexnaydre said. “Our guys started to believe in each other and believe in themselves. We made some plays in the game we wouldn’t have made the other day.”
Fairbanks (6-2) retired nine straight between the second and fourth innings and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth, when Bailey Braud led off with a single.
The Griffins made it 3-2 when Cullen Ballard drove in Braud with a two-out single that caromed off the top of the glove of Fairbanks, who ended the inning with his fifth strikeout.
Bell inherited the tying run at first base — pinch-runner Seth Jarreau — and a 2-0 count after Fairbanks left, having thrown 56 of 92 pitches for strikes. He yielded four hits and walked three in six innings.
Ethan Baldwin’s sacrifice and Braud’s groundout moved Jarreau to third, but Bell threw out Cameron Sibley after a hard smash back to the mound.
Bell nailed down his first save with a perfect seventh that was capped by third baseman Cole Johnson’s defensive gem.
“We’ll never back down when we’re in a dogfight,” Bell said. “We’re going to take it to someone.”