With District 6-4A’s one-round format, the chase for the league’s baseball championship has become more of an all-out sprint.
St. Michael the Archangel got quite a jump out of the starter’s block Thursday, exploding for 10 runs in the third inning and received a combined one-hit pitching effort in a 12-0 run-rule victory over Plaquemine in the league opener for both teams.
“Playing one time through creates a little more urgency,” St. Michael coach Johnny Bernhard said. “The winner of this game is kind of in the driver’s seat.
“Considering this was our opener, that’s pretty soon for it to happen. The players enjoyed the atmosphere knowing there was a good bit on the line and came out with a lot of energy.”
St. Michael (16-6) extended its win streak to six games, sending 14 batters to the plate against three Plaquemine pitchers in the defining third inning.
The Warriors had four of their seven hits in the inning, but with two runners on took advantage of a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt to take a 2-0 lead.
“After that throw we kind of fell apart,” Plaquemine coach Robert Primus said. “Our guys didn’t get back up after that and played bad baseball for that one inning. Against a good team, they did what they were supposed to do and put it to us.”
St. Michael’s best offense came when shortstop Nolan Tiersch (1-2, 3 RBIs) doubled in two runs, left fielder Hayden Salles (2-3) followed with an RBI-double to deep center and designated hitter Ben Steib made it 7-0 with a run-scoring single.
Plaquemine’s pitching, which threw only 19 strikes in the 56-pitch inning, combined to either walk or hit six of the next eight batters. Michael Smith drew a bases-loaded walk, and Tiersch was hit with the bases loaded.
Starter Dalton Brigalia (5-2) took the loss, lasting 2.1 innings and combined with relievers Dewayne Askins and Mike Sproles to walk 10.
Pinch-hitter Grant Hebert accounted for Plaquemine’s scoring with a two-run single in the fourth.
Winning pitcher Evan Becnel (3-1) went the first three innings, striking out two and throwing 22 of 31 pitches for strikes. Tyler Held and Chase Gomez each pitched an inning in relief with Plaquemine’s Rocky Guidry breaking up the staff’s no-hit bid with a two-out single in the fifth.
“We put ourselves in a situation to score some runs, and we executed offensively,” Bernhard said.
“We had a pretty complete effort, and it’s going to take a lot more of those as we continue down the stretch.”