The swings in momentum in Tuesday’s District 6-4A showdown matching St. Michael the Archangel and Lutcher High were profound from the first inning until the home team’s final plate appearance.
St. Michael, ranked fifth in the latest LHSAA power rankings, rallied from a two-run deficit with four unanswered runs over the final two innings in a 5-3 victory that was equal parts fundamental baseball, clutch hitting and relief pitching.
“Through the middle innings they outplayed us,” said St. Michael coach Johnny Bernhard, whose team won for the ninth time in its past 10 games. “The key for us is when we get to crunch time certain guys raise their level of play. We did that with some big hits late in the game.”
The two teams meet again at 4 p.m. Thursday in Lutcher.
Lutcher starting pitcher Cameron Guillot (3-2) overcame a shaky 22-pitch first inning to throttle St. Michael’s offense until the fifth.
The Warriors (18-8, 5-0) took a 1-0 lead on Michael Smith’s infield single and were looking for more when Nolan Tiersch was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Ross Scelfo’s single.
“The play at the plate swung the momentum in Lutcher’s favor,” Bernhard said. “They were able to capitalize and got the lead. Credit to them. They’re a very good team that’s hitting their stride.”
Right fielder Gavin Englade, who had an assist on the play at the plate and had three hits, doubled in Luke Zeringue, and Lutcher (13-13, 4-1) added two runs on three hits in the fifth for a 3-1 lead on Vinny Laurent’s two-run single up the middle.
“I thought we played well enough the whole game to win,” Lutcher coach Davey Clement said. “It’s baseball. A lot of different things happen in a game that could have gone our way and just didn’t. I thought we could have made some plays in the outfield that we didn’t make.”
Guillot faced one over the minimum batters from the second to the fifth when Chad Alello drew a two-out walk and scored on Tiersch’s double — the team’s initial hit since the first inning.
St. Michael tied the game at 4 on back-to-back doubles to open the sixth inning from Leighton Waitz and Scelfo, who went 2-for-3 before Mason Gremillion sacrificed courtesy runner Luke Hebert to third base.
Hebert scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch from Guillot on a 2-2 pitch to Garrett Hamilton, who wound up drawing a walk. Ninth-place hitter Dwain Varisco followed with a perfectly executed a hit-and-run, sending a double just inside the third-base bag to score Hamilton.
Scott Terrell (2-0) came on in relief in the sixth of starter Evan Becnel pitched a spotless final two innings with only one runner reaching on an error.
“We got a little down on ourselves when they scored some runs,” Scelfo said. “All of a sudden when Chad got the walk and Nolan got his hit we were in a groove and in back to back innings we scored just like that.”