Jesuit baseball has followed a simple formula this season of quality pitching and timely hitting to win 20-plus games, and the results didn’t change Friday night.
Brandon Briuglio’s five-hit gem and Nick Ray’s two-out RBI single were all the fifth-seeded Blue Jays needed to earn a 1-0 victory over No. 12 Destrehan in the first game of a Class 5A second-round playoff series at John Ryan Stadium.
“We’re not going to light the world on fire on the offensive end,” Jesuit coach Joey Latino said. “Occasionally we get our big innings, but this has been us all year. If we pitch it like we did tonight and if we can play defense like we did tonight, we’ll have a chance.”
The best-of-three series continues at 11 a.m. Saturday, with a third game, if necessary, scheduled for 4 p.m.
Briuglio (6-0) was effective on the mound, scattering five hits and one walk over seven innings. He struck out six — including the side in the seventh — on 87 pitches.
“I was just trying to throw strikes and hit my spots,” Briuglio said. “Jake (Licciardi) came up with a big hit, and Nick (Ray) got the job done. I thought it was a great win for the team. It’s really big winning Game 1, but (Saturday) is even more important to get the win in the second game.”
The Blue Jays (25-10) scored the game’s only run in the third as Licciardi blasted a one-out double to center and scored on Ray’s two-out single to make it 1-0.
“I was just looking to pull through for the team,” said Ray (1-for-2 with a walk). “Jake’s hit was a big jump-start for the offense. He really put a charge in the team. We’d been looking for that since the beginning of the game. I think winning the first game is huge, and now, we just have to come back tomorrow and try to clinch this thing.”
Jesuit loaded the bases in the fifth with three walks, but Destrehan starter Cole Martin got a strikeout and soft liner to second to keep the Blue Jays off the board.
Martin was the hard-luck loser, allowing one run on three hits and five walks. He struck out six on 108 pitches.
The Wildcats (24-9) had runners on base in each of the first five innings, but only once did a Wildcat reach second base until the final frame. Destrehan tried to rally in the seventh as Brandon Robichaux belted a one-out single. Pinch runner Cole Porter stole second on a strikeout, but Briuglio recorded his sixth strikeout to end the game.
“I was just trying to get the leadoff guy out and set the tone for the inning,” Briuglio said. “My defense made some great plays behind me throughout the whole night. I felt like if I pounded the strike zone that they were going to hit the ball on the ground, and that my defense was going to make plays.”
Kohen Granier went 2-for-3 with a double to lead Destrehan while the teams stranded six runners each.
Latino said the difference for Briuglio was that he retired the first batter in all seven innings and allowed just one walk.
“The key was that most of their opportunities came with two outs,” he said. “(Brandon) is a two-pitch pitcher. He keeps the ball down, and he locates well, but the key for him is to get the first batter. I thought we played excellent defense behind him, and Brandon just stayed within himself.”