FRANKLINTON — Before a packed house at Demon Diamond, Franklinton wasted little time against St. Michael.
The third-seeded Demons scored two runs in each of the first two innings to defeat the sixth-seeded Warriors 8-1 Friday afternoon in Game 1 of the best-of-three Class 4A state quarterfinals.
Franklinton (22-4) will go for the sweep at 1 p.m. Saturday against St. Michael (21-10). The Warriors, meanwhile, must win two games if they want to advance to the state semifinals in Sulphur next week.
Franklinton’s Josh Magee led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk. After stealing second base, Magee advanced to third on a single by Morgan Angelo. Magee scored on a fielder’s choice by C.J. Estave. Running for Estave, courtesy runner Trevor Davis scored on an RBI double by Landon Magee to extend the lead to 2-0.
Angelo got in on the fun an inning later with an RBI single. Franklinton added an unearned run thanks to a St. Michael error, extending the lead to 4-0.
“We came out swinging today,” Franklinton coach Jeff Tageant. “Our first two batters in our lineup were 6-for-7. We are capable of hitting well throughout the lineup, and when you can pound out 14 hits like we did tonight that makes you a very good high school baseball team.”
Franklinton knocked out Warriors starter Tyler Ezell (8-1) after only two innings. Suffering his first loss of the year, Ezell allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits, while striking out one and walking one.
Given a 5-0 lead after the first three innings, junior right-hander Mack McElveen was equally as impressive on the hill.
Picking up the complete-game win, McElveen allowed only one run on two hits, striking out four and walking six.
“I have to give a ton of credit to my offense because they got me the runs we needed to win,” he said. “They are like insurance to me. The more runs we can put on the board as a team, the more comfortable I am out there.
“It allows me to throw strikes and not worry about anything else. Because, the other thing is, when I throw strikes if (St. Michael) puts the ball in play, they are just about going to get an out every single time.”
The turning point of the game came in top of the fourth inning when St. Michael loaded the bases with no outs. Only giving up a single run on a walk, McElveen forced a pop-out and two strikeouts to end the Warriors’ best threat of the night.
“Bases loaded with nobody out is a big situation,” McElveen said. “But our coaches have prepared us all year long to succeed even in tough situations like that.”
“The hay is in the barn. We have been prepared for that all year long. We are comfortable at being uncomfortable.”