Karr had never won a postseason baseball game in its school history.
It took extra innings, a gutsy comeback and then one swing of the bat by Tyree Thompson to change that.
Thompson belted a line drive that Plaquemine second baseman Austin Lejuene couldn’t hang on to and Jarid Montgomery scored to cap off Karr’s thrilling 5-4, eight-inning win in a bidistrict Class 4A playoff game.
“Coach told me to go up there with confidence,” said Thompson, a sophomore who also went the distance on the mound. “I said ‘I got you coach.’ He told me I pitched a good game and earned the ‘W,’ so go up there and get the win for myself. We made history. I give credit to my teammates for playing so well behind me.”
Karr, boasting the best record in the state, improved to 22-1 and advances to the regional round to play the winner of Franklinton-East Jefferson.
“I can’t say enough about these guys,” said Karr coach Donnie Russell, a St. Augustine alum who earned his 100th career victory. “They fought. They are so competitive. They have been playing together since they were 6 years old, and nobody wants to lose. This is a big win for the city. I don’t think an Orleans Parish public school has a win in the playoffs since the 80s when I played.”
Thompson, just a sophomore, struck out 10 and gave up seven hits to improve to 11-0.
“This was the first time he had given up a run all season, and it bothered him a little early,” Russell said. “But Tyree is maturing in front of our eyes every day. That kid is special. They don’t come around too often.”
But for five innings, it looked like Plaquemine pitcher Joe Keller would steal the show.
Keller allowed just one hit through the first five innings. He retired 12 straight during one stretch. That streak ended in the fifth when Corey Bush reached base on an error by Keller. But pinch runner Warren Newman was thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning. But Karr, the No. 10 seed, finally got going against the No. 23 seed Green Devils.
Karr trailed 3-1 headed to the bottom of the sixth. Tyler Reid tied it with a two-run double, The Cougars took a 4-3 lead when Reid scored on a wild pitch.
The Green Devils (15-9) answered in the seventh, scoring on a fielder’s choice and a throwing error. Plaquemine had the bases loaded in the inning, but Karr second baseman Corey Bush made a highlight-reel bare-handed grab on a grounder to get a force out at second to end the inning.
“Corey has been making plays like that for us all season,” Russell said.
The Cougars got out of another tight spot in the eighth when Thompson worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam.
Then Karr got the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth that started when Jarid Montgomery reached base on a close play at first.
“It was a bang-bang play and could have gone either way,” said Plaquemine coach Scott Allen. “I think we scored more runs on him (Thompson) than anybody else. But they are a great ballclub, and they are well-coached. We got the bases loaded a couple times and couldn’t score any runs. What can you say? It was two great teams going at it.”
D’andre Williams followed Montgomery with a single and Juwan Ofrray was intentionally walked to load the bases before Thompson’s hit that set off a big celebration in the infield.
Montgomery, a Grambling signee, had two hits for Karr, including an RBI single in the first. D’Monte Carter also had a pair of hits. Keller led Plaquemine with three hits and two RBIs. He also got some splendid defensive plays from center fielder Ethan King.
“Their center fielder made four diving catches that probably would have given us five more runs,” Russell said. “But we win the game on a ball that trickled off the second baseman’s glove. This was truly a game of inches.”