SULPHUR — Second-seeded Evangel advanced to the Class 3A championship game with a 3-0 victory over No. 6 Brusly on Friday at McMurry Park.
With the win, the Eagles (28-9) advance to take on No. 1 John Curtis (32-9) in the 3A title game of the Louisiana High school Athletic Association State Baseball Tournament at 6 p.m. Saturday
Evangel pushed across its first run with two outs in the third when Miller Parker doubled and advanced to third on a Brusly error. Two pitches later he scored on Ryne Ray’s RBI single, making it 1-0 Eagles.
In the fifth inning, Parker’s bases-loaded walk made it 2-0. The Eagles added an insurance run in the sixth inning.
Crediting his defense and starting pitching, Eagles coach Tim Hulett was proud of his team.
“Blake Buckman just pitched fantastic for us tonight,” Hulett said. “He didn’t give up that many free passes and just pounded the strike zone. Sometimes he gets off to a slow start, but he had a good fastball tonight. We probably threw 85 percent fastballs tonight because he was spotting the ball so well, and offensively we did what we had to do to get the runs we needed. It’s a good win for us.”
Buckman (9-1) picked up the win, going 5.1 innings. He gave up two hits, struck out seven and walked three. Shane Miears picked up the save, going 1.2 innings.
“The previous couple of outings I had I just hadn’t really felt on,” Buckman said. “I was trying to do too much. Tonight, I just came with the mindset that I was just going to throw strikes and let my defense do all the work for me. I believe we have one of the best fielding teams in the state, and tonight, we proved that.”
Panthers coach Tait Dupont credited Buckman for being the difference in the game.
“He (Buckman) threw the ball extremely well,” he said. “I thought we had a chance early on in the first inning, but we had a base-running mistake. There is nothing much more you can say about him (Buckman). He pitched lights out. We have seen some good pitchers this year, but he is one of the better ones that we have seen.”
Landon Blank (7-2) was the losing pitcher for Brusly (25-9), giving up two runs on five hits in 4.1 innings. He struck out four and walked three.
“It’s been an unbelievable run for this team and program,” Dupont said. “Two semifinal appearances in a row is nothing to hold your head down about. Our senior class got us here the last two years, and now we are looking for our juniors to do the same thing. The way our program is now we shouldn’t be rebuilding, we are reloading.”