ZACHARY — Shaw pitcher Jace Nini had a decision to make after Tuesday night’s Class 5A first-round playoff game against Zachary: Was he more excited with his performance on the mound or at the plate?
Nini not only threw what he called the best performance of his career, but he also went 3-for-3 with a home run in the No. 30-seeded Eagles’ (18-13) 7-1 upset over the No. 3 Broncos (26-8).
“This is probably the best feeling,” Nini said, ultimately choosing his pitching as the better performance. “I just didn’t want to make this my last game, and I just wanted to do as much as I could to help the team.”
Shaw’s ace struck out eight, while allowing just one run on six hits and a pair of walks during a complete game. He also finished a triple shy of a hitting for the cylce, sending a shot over the left field wall in the sixth inning off Zachary starter Cory Musselman.
In the first inning Nini scored the Eagles’ initial run after a Kyle Flettrich single just over infielder’s head.
Flettrich put the final nail in the win in the seventh inning when he rocked a fastball off the center field wall with the bases loaded for a three-run double.
“It shows how much heart we have and how much fight we have,” Flettrich said. “We had our best pitcher on the mound, and we were coming after them.
“I couldn’t sleep last night I was so excited to play these guys.”
The scene was drastically different in the Zachary dugout as the Broncos began to cope with the end of their season.
Zachary coach Jesse Cassard summed up the night as unlucky after the Broncos failed to produce more than a lone run despite putting at least one runner in scoring position in five of the seven innings.
Cassard pointed specifically to the fifth inning, which ended with a double play after the Broncos loaded the bases with one out.
“It was a combination of not having much luck and not executing, and they have a guy that would beat anybody in the state,” Cassard said. “… Our guys worked their butts off to get to this position, and we ran into that guy (Nini). We knew what he was coming with and they bought into it, things just didn’t go our way.”