The first person John Curtis pitcher Daniel Cabrera could find to celebrate with was third baseman Jay Curtis, joining him halfway for a mid-air, hip-to-hip bump.
Cabrera was still full of energy and exuberance following his one-hit, 14-strikeout performance, leading second-seeded John Curtis to a 1-0 victory Sunday afternoon over No. 10 seed North Vermilion 1-0 in Class 3A state quarterfinal action.
“My curve was decent, but not my best,” Cabrera said. “I was a little wild today. My change-up was on, and I could throw it for strikes at any time.”
Cabrera’s dominance enabled Curtis (24-3) to return to the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA state tournament for a second straight year. The Patriots face third-seeded Iowa, a 7-6 winner over St. Charles, on Friday at 6 p.m. at McMurray Field No. 40 in Sulphur.
“He’s a sophomore and played extremely intense in the first couple of innings,” Curtis coach Johnny Curtis said. “He had to get himself settled in. He’s a very intense kid, which is a great attribute to have, but sometimes as a pitcher you’ve got to calm yourself. Once he calmed himself and settled, which he did himself, and (he) started attacking hitters and did a much better job.”
Cabrera (5-1) got himself into trouble in the bottom of the first when North Vermilion loaded the bases with one out on Connor Dupuy’s single to center and consecutive walks.
Following a visit to the mound, Cabrera concluded his 23-pitch first inning by striking out third baseman Taylor Abshire swinging.
“I just had to get adjusted to the strike zone,” Cabrera said. “It was up and down. I got my groove going and the defense made plays. We just needed one run.”
North Vermilion (24-6) got a runner to third on a walk and a pair of wild pitches, but Ryan Thompson was stranded when Cabrera got leadoff batter Seth Patin looking at strike three.
Cabrera went on to retire 15 of the next 18 batters he faced, allowing three of his five walks. He threw 64 of 105 pitches for strikes and struck out more than one batter four times, including the side in the seventh.
UL-Lafayette signee Donald Comeaux (10-1) was equally resourceful, getting out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the top of the first with a strikeout and double-play grounder.
Between the second and fifth innings, Comeaux set down 12 of 14 batters until Curtis had two of its three hits to start the sixth.
Shortstop Jacob Bordelon led off with a single to left and Curtis, eschewed a sacrifice bunt opportunity for Cabrera, who walked twice, and allowed him to hit away and the LSU commitment smacked a ground-rule double to left.
The Patriots loaded the bases with one out, and right fielder Hunter Dale, who was not in the hitting lineup, pinch-hit for Nick Wilson and delivered a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
“In all probability, that was a bunt situation and we felt they were thinking that,” Curtis said. “Daniel got a fastball and drove it the other way, popped it over the fence and put us in position. We got the sac fly and did enough for us. Just enough.”