Live Oak High School baseball coach Greg Briggs made sure his team didn’t look ahead in the Class 5A playoff brackets when it dispatched Haughton 10-3 earlier this week. With that out of the way, they have been free to focus on Barbe, the team which defeated Live Oak for last year’s state championship.
That game was the culmination of the two great seasons. For Live Oak, it marked the first time the Eagles had advanced to the state title game. Barbe won its seventh title overall, and had observers calling last year’s team the best of the bunch.
Still, Briggs doesn’t see last year’s result playing much of a role in the second round of this year’s playoffs. The 12th-seeded Eagles (21-10) visit No. 5 Barbe (26-9) for a best-of-three series beginning 7 p.m. Friday. Game 2 will be 1 p.m. Saturday, with a third game, if necessary, scheduled for 4 p.m.
“They were a different team and we were a different team, but traditionally they’ve got a heck of a program,” Briggs said. “They’ve got a lot of skins on the wall. There’s a little added to it with this being a rematch, but we’ve got to handle the atmosphere over there.
“Last year they walked off with a big trophy. This year, we’re playing in the second round, and it will be a little different.”
Live Oak is expected to start Hunter Merritt for Game 1. Merritt brings in a 5-3 record and a 2.45 ERA. Pitching options for Saturday include Zach Hansen (7-1, 1.70) who started Tuesday’s win over Haughton and Austin Beck (4-1, 2.00).
Leading hitters for the Eagles are Lennie Kunert (.477), Jared Forrest (.311) and Michael Claverie (447), who had three RBIs against Haughton.
Other 5A series starting up this weekend are No. 18 Holy Cross (20-13) at No. 2 Catholic (32-3), No. 10 (27-7) Destrehan at No. 7 Denham Springs (23-7), and No. 27 Central (19-15) at NO. 22 Byrd (20-15) in Shreveport.
The Holy Cross/Catholic series begins at 4 p.m. Friday. It continues Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., if necessary. Central’s series at Byrd begins at 6 p.m. Friday with Saturday’s schedule featuring noon and 3 p.m. start times.
Denham Springs will host Destrehan beginning 1 p.m. Saturday. The teams conclude the series Sunday with Game 2 scheduled for 2 p.m. followed by Game 3. The series is a return of sorts for Destrehan coach Chris Mire, who previously coached at Central. Mire’s stint at Central included a run to the Class 5A quarterfinals in 2010.
In Class 4A series likely to begin Saturday, St. Michael will host the winner of the playoff game between No. 11 Cecilia and No. 22 Plaquemine.
Local clashes will highlight first-round Class 3A action. No. 18 Albany visits No. 5 Parkview Baptist at 6 p.m. while No. 26 Livonia plays at No. 7 Brusly with first pitch at 6:30 p.m.