Trailing by a run in the seventh inning, 10th-seeded De La Salle looked poised to rally, but Pine Prairie centerfielder Josh Fontenot took it all away in the blink of an eye.
Fontenot made a diving catch in shallow center and doubled up the Cavaliers’ pinch runner at second to seal a 2-1 Class 3A first round playoff upset at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium on Monday afternoon.
“Honestly, at first I didn’t think I was going to get it,” Fontenot said. “But when I got close to it, I had to go for it. I just dove, and I got it. I was kind of nervous throwing it to second because I thought I might overthrow him. It felt good to get that last out.”
The No. 23-seeded Panthers, who claimed their first playoff win since 2008, will take on either No. 7 North Webster or No. 26 Patterson in a best-of-three series later this week.
While Fontenot provided the final dramatic outs, it was starter Dylan Doucet who held the Cavaliers to just one run on three hits and three walks. He struck out five on 108 pitches.
“I wanted to come out and throw strikes and work ahead of every batter,” Doucet said. “I trusted my team. I let them hit it and let my team make the plays. It feels good because we haven’t had a second round playoff game in a while.”
The Panthers (14-10) took the lead in the second thanks to two De La Salle errors. Logan Blood and Zac Lee reached on those errors and both scored on Drake Lee’s two-out, two-strike single to center to make it 2-0.
In the third, the Cavaliers (20-5) cut into the lead on Stephen Klein’s sac fly to score Collin Burns, who walked to open the inning. Earl Vincent followed with a two-out triple down the left field line, but he was stranded at third.
Both teams threatened at times the rest of the game, but neither pushed across another run as the loss snapped the Cavaliers’ nine-game winning streak.
Pine Prairie third-year coach Scott Butts said his players simply fought for every out.
“I’m real proud of the guys today,” he said. “Dylan (Doucet) gave us a chance to win. He minimized his walks, which was his goal. He battled tonight. Josh (Fontenot) made a great play to end the game — diving catch but really good awareness to get the final out.”
De La Salle’s Glenn Gebo was the hard-luck loser, allowing two unearned runs on five hits and two strikeouts. He threw just 76 pitches including 52 for strikes.
Cavaliers coach Rowland Skinner said his team’s three errors were the difference.
“We’ve made routine plays all year, so that was a little uncharacteristic of us,” he said. “We had to settle down a little bit, but give credit to their pitcher. He did a great job, and they made routine plays. They just made a few more plays than we did.”
De La Salle graduates four seniors, so Skinner said the future looks bright.
“We have a young team overall. It’s been a great year overall. I think we kind of turned this thing around this year, and a lot of credit is due to the seniors. We’re excited about the underclassmen that we have, so we’ll continue to work hard and build on this year.”