ST. FRANCISVILLE — Brusly pitcher Evan Daigle struggled to find his mojo during the first three innings Friday against West Feliciana.
After the senior pitcher found his magic, he had the Saints under his spell the rest of the way as Brusly notched a hard-fought 5-3 victory in a District 6-3A showdown at West Feliciana Sports Park.
The victory boosted Brusly, No. 1 in the LHSAA power ratings, to 29-2 for the season and 7-0 in 6-3A. The loss dropped fourth-ranked West Feliciana to 19-6 and 5-2 in the league. The two teams are scheduled to wrap up the season series at 4 p.m. Saturday in Brusly.
Daigle had control problems in the first three innings, allowing three runs on four hits. He struggled to find the strike zone consistently, as he also gave up three walks. But by the fourth inning, he discovered his touch and kept the Saints hitless and scoreless the rest of the way for the complete-game victory.
“He started a little out of control, but he settled down,” Brusly coach Tait Dupont said. “He’s a competitor, and he found all his pitches at the end. Everything worked for him after the third inning.”
Daigle, who will play baseball for Northwestern State beginning in the fall, said the secret was getting his first pitch over the plate for strikes. That allowed him to alternate curveballs and fastballs to keep the West Feliciana batters guessing.
“The first three innings I wasn’t throwing strikes, I was getting behind and I gave up some hits and walked some batters,” said Daigle, who also had 10 strikeouts. “When I got my pitches over for strikes, I could tell they didn’t know what to expect next.”
The Saints scored single runs in each of the first three innings. The Panthers answered with runs in the second and third innings and tied the score at three in the fifth.
West Feliciana coach Gannon Achord replaced starting pitcher Gage Tygres with reliever Jarid Sturgeon, and Brusly scored two runs in the top of the sixth when John Blanchard belted a one out, two-run double for a 5-3 advantage.
“I thought our guys competed from the first pitch to the very last one. That’s what we ask from them,” said Achord, who is in his first year as head coach. “I thought Gage Tygres threw the ball well, and he gave us a chance to win. We just couldn’t get hits. My hat’s off to Brusly. They’re a good team, and we knew what to expect. Their guy (Daigle) is a good pitcher and he settled down and pitched well.”
But Dupont knows the roles can be reversed on any given day in such a competitive league.
“In this district, every game is a tough game,” Dupont said. “We like it that way, and we set it up that way with good district competition leading into the playoffs to prepare us.”