SULPHUR — The top-seeded Doyle baseball team’s season ended with a 6-1 loss to No. 4 Kinder in a Class 2A semifinal of the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Baseball tournament Friday afternoon at McMurry Park.
The Tigers (25-6) played an uncharacteristic game in two facets, and Kinder (23-9) took advantage to advance to its second consecutive Class 2A state title game.
“We’ve been preaching defense all week, and the defense wasn’t there,” Doyle coach Tim Beatty said. “Our goal all year was to score four runs and of course we scored one, so nothing really went our way that we’ve been doing all year.”
The top half off of Kinder’s batting order made things difficult for the Tigers pitching staff.
The first five Yellowjacket batters hit a combined 9-for-19, scored six runs and had five RBIs.
“We called them the gauntlet,” Beatty said. “They really stuck it to us today, and we never survived it, not one time through. Hats off to those guys. They’re one of the better five that we’ve seen this year for sure.”
The Tigers did not help themselves defensively, either, committing five errors and allowing three unearned runs.
“That kind of stunk,” Beatty said. “That’s uncharacteristic of us. I don’t think we’ve made five errors in the past month. It just happens. It shows its head. When you’re facing a quality team like that, they’re going to make you pay when you make a mistake. That’s what happened today for sure.”
Doyle tallied just two hits and one unearned run against the Yellow Jackets (23-9) senior pitcher Dylon Poncho.
Poncho delivered for the Yellow Jackets offensively and defensively, pitching a complete game with eight strikeouts and two walks. He went 3-for-4 and with four RBIs.
“This is the second year in a row we’ve asked (Poncho) to get us into the state championship game on the mound, and he came out and pitched wonderfully,” Kinder coach Kenney Courville said.“Dylon’s a great competitor and a great player. … He buys into the team concept. He’s not afraid to go the other way if that’s what it takes to get the job done. He’s a great player. I’m glad he plays for us.”
Pigott did a good job hitting the strike zone, striking out eight and walking just one in 5.2 innings. But Kinder also made him pay for putting the ball over the plate, tallying nine hits and five runs, three earned.
Despite the season-ending loss, Beatty said he took a page out of former LSU baseball coach Skip Bertman’s book and used his first trip to the state semifinals as a learning experience.
“Now they know what it takes,” Beatty said. “Bertman said his first year in Omaha (in the College World Series) he knew he wasn’t going to win it. You don’t ever want to think that, but it’s hard to win your first trip here. … It’s been a special year. I was so proud of them. I got to enjoy them. Our seven seniors are going to go off and be somebody because of what they did this season.”
The Yellow Jackets will take on No. 3 Oak Grove in the state championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday on Field 40.