Just over two weeks ago, when St. Amant left with a 5-0 victory over Dutchtown, the two teams settled for a share of the District 5-5A championship, along with Catholic High.
When the two Ascension Parish rivals meet again Friday at 6 p.m., the stakes will have increased exponentially.
No. 13 Dutchtown (25-12) makes the eight-mile trek to face No. 5 St. Amant (27-8) in a best-of-three Class 5A quarterfinal playoff series that resumes at 1 p.m. Saturday with an if-necessary game at 4 p.m.
“It doesn’t matter who we play,” St. Amant coach Troy Templet said. “You put somebody in front of us, and we’ve got to beat them to get to the next round to get to the state tournament. That’s been one of these kids’ goals, and we’re going to try and reach it.”
The Dutchtown-St. Amant matchup represents a heavily influenced Baton Rouge-area bracket where four teams — including three from District 5-5A — are still in contention to reach the state tournament.
Reigning state champion No. 9 Catholic (26-11) finds itself with the challenge of taking on top-seeded No. 1 Barbe (34-2) in a series that begins at 6 p.m. Friday in Lake Charles. The Buccaneers are ranked first nationally in at least one poll.
“That’s exactly what we want,” Catholic coach Brad Bass said. “If we’re to accomplish our goal of playing the last game of the season, you’ve got to go through a team like this. We’re certainly up for this challenge. We’re going in there to win two ballgames.”
No. 10 Live Oak (28-8) makes its first appearance in a 5A quarterfinal with a road test against No. 2 Brother Martin (30-4) in a game scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at UNO’s First NBA Ballpark.
“It’s going to be a tough test,” Live Oak coach Greg Briggs said. “They have some really good players and a good pitching staff. It’s definitely going to take our best shot to go there and beat them in a three-game series.”
DUTCHTOWN-ST. AMANT: In their two-game district series, Dutchtown won 6-1 at St. Amant and dropped a 5-0 home decision.
The Griffins are in the midst of a stretch where they’ve won 14 of their last 16 games, including a road playoff series win over Denham Springs in which they overcame a 1-0 deficit.
“We felt like we came together as a team last weekend,” Dutchtown coach Chris Schexnaydre said. “I believe our kids feel like they can do this. It’s achievable. Denham Springs was a great team and we went over there and beat them two out of three. Now we’ve got to continue to go out there and do it.”
LSU signee Austin Bain (5-4, 2.75 ERA, 59 strikeouts, 41 innings) is the scheduled starter for Dutchtown, which features Dylan King (.450 batting average, 13 RBIs), Bain (.381, three HRs, 39 RBIs), Justin Martin (.342, 24 RBIs) and Evan Richardson (.333, three HRs, 20 RBIs) offensively.
While Templet chose not to disclose his pitching plans, Skylar Enlow (3-1, 1.18 ERA, 75 strikeouts, 53 innings) got the win in St. Amant’s 5-0 win over Dutchtown. Connor Millet (7-0, 2.98) and Brennan Gant (6-2, 2.43, 55 strikeouts) are other options.
Blaine Schexnaydre tops the Gators with a .347 average and 12 doubles followed by Gant (.320, 32 RBIs), Mitchell Mayard (.316) and Matt Delaune (.301).
CATHOLIC-BARBE: Catholic’s already had a look at Barbe, falling 3-2 on March 6 behind the complete-game pitching effort of Tyler Shipley in a tournament.
Not only have the Bears gained a share in the 5-5A title, but have won 10 of their last 11 games — including a road series win over Ruston last weekend.
The Buccaneers, who swept Sulphur in two games, are riding a 24-game win streak.
Either left-hander Ross Massey (7-2, 1.33, 74 strikeouts, 63 innings) or right-hander Clay Moffitt (5-2, 2.86, 43 strikeouts, 36 innings) will start for Catholic, which is paced offensively by Hunter D’Armond (.415, 27 RBIs), Josh Smith (.359, nine 2Bs, 38 runs), Austin Devillier (.357, 27 RBIs) and Nick Coomes (.352, four HRs, 30 RBIs).
“When we played them the first time and lost, our guys said they hoped to get another opportunity to play them again in the playoffs,” Bass said.
LIVE OAK-BROTHER MARTIN: When it comes to playing in tight quarters, Briggs said his team has flourished with three straight, one-run wins in the playoffs, including a sweep of East Ascension.
“I think we have confidence when we get in those games we can win,” Briggs said. “Coming from a tough district and playing a tough nondistrict schedule has prepared us for what we’ve seen in the playoffs so far.”
Live Oak, which has won seven of its past eight, will start either left-hander Zach Hansen (4-2, 1.70 ERA) or righty Hunter Merritt (6-2, 1.80) to oppose a Brother Martin team that swept Zachary in the regional series and has won 13 of its past 14.
Michael Claverie (.400, 26 RBIs) tops the Eagles in hitting with help from LSU signee Lenni Kunnert (.360, three HRs, 18 RBIs), Jared Forest (.320, 16 RBIs) and Gage Lockwood (.307, 3 HRs, 29 RBIs).