SULPHUR — In arguably the game of the day in the Fast Pitch 56 State Tournament, nationally ranked and undefeated St. Amant defeated rival Denham Springs 3-2 in eight innings in the Class 5A state quarterfinals Friday night at Frasch Park.

Tied 2-2 headed to the bottom of the eighth, St. Amant (27-0) loaded the bases with one out. Freshman second baseman Taylor Tidwell then hit a line drive into right field for the game-winning run.

“The minute I hit it, I knew we won,” Tidwell said. “My approach coming into the at-bat was just to hit ball and hit it far. I wanted to force Denham to make a play, and if that couldn’t happen, I wanted to stay out of the double play.

“This was an intense game. You could feel it out there. What a ballgame, and I’m glad we won.”

With the win, the Gators advance to take on fifth-seeded Sam Houston in the state quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Saturday.

“We got exactly what we expected going into this game,” St. Amant coach Scott Nielson said. “When you get this deep into the season and scouting reports are out, their people know what you do well and what you to do badly. Denham had a great plan. We had some damage-control situations and we told the kids to keep working hard and stay focused.

“A prime-time player got a prime-time hit in a prime-time situation.”

A scoreless game for the first three innings, Denham Springs (23-9) got on the board in the fourth inning on an RBI double by Jaden Acardo.

The Yellow Jackets took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.

St. Amant’s Kourtney Gremillion then hit an RBI single in the bottom of the inning made to tie the game at 2-2.

“We tell our team all the time when you get hit you have to answer,” Nielson said. “Answer back every run that gets thrown at you.”

Gabrielle Sharp picked up the win. Sharp (24-0) allowed two runs on eight hits while walking two. Holley Morrison (14-7) took the loss, allowing three runs on seven hits.

“This one definitely stings,” Denham Springs coach David Bourque said. “We played well the entire game. We had opportunities. We just left too many people on base and didn’t build a lead when we had the chance to.”