Opelousas Catholic knocks out Episcopal in Class 2A baseball playoffs _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Episcopal's Cliff Daigle leaps for a high throw to second as Opelousas Catholic's Zach Mengarelli slides safely to the base on Saturday at Episcopal.

While the weekend may have proved forgettable, Episcopal baseball coach Travis Bourgeois didn’t want it to overshadow a season’s worth of accomplishments.

Especially the foundation the program’s nine seniors helped establish.

“This is something Episcopal baseball should expect year in and year out,” said Bourgeois, who completed his second season. “We learned what it takes to get to that next level and how much more that we need to work to get there. We’re not far from it.”

No. 4 Episcopal’s hopes reaching the Class 2A state tournament were dashed in less than a 24-hour span, falling to No. 5 Opelousas Catholic 9-1 on Saturday.

The Knights, who lost 5-2 Friday in the opening game of the best-of-three Class 2A state quarterfinal series, completed their season 24-8.

“Hat’s off to Opelousas Catholic. They have an outstanding program,” Bourgeois said. “We’re headed in the right direction, and I’m thankful for our seniors for laying down that foundation.”

Episcopal never led in either game, leaving the bases loaded to end Friday’s opening game and leaving 10 men on base.

Opelousas Catholic, which defeated Episcopal for the third time this season, started quickly once again with a pair of runs in the first before swapping runs for a 3-1 edge after three innings.

“In all three games we’ve played them, we’ve always had baserunners,” Bourgeois said. “We just could never get that timely hit. When you play good, quality teams, that’s what baseball’s going to come down to. Unfortunately for us, we picked a bad time to go on a two-game losing streak.”

Pinch-hitter Thomas Love cut OC’s lead in half with a run-scoring single in the top of the second, scoring Cliff Daigle from second base.

OC starter Connor Castille, who walked two in the first and loaded the bases on three singles in the second, was dominant from that juncture. He only faced one over the minimum batters over his last five innings, aided by a pair of double plays from a defense that didn’t commit an error in two games.

Episcopal was guilty of five errors Friday and a throwing error in the third inning contributed to a 3-1 deficit.

OC, which had nine hits off four pitchers and stole five bases, scored six times over the last three innings — sparked by third basemen Matt Collins’ three-run homer, which made it 6-1 after the fourth.

Episcopal intentionally walked first baseman Spencer Gardner for the second time in the series to get to Collins, who turned on a 1-0 pitch from reliever Clayton Talbot and hit it to left-center field.

Starter Matthew Garrett (7-3) allowed four hits, four runs (three earned), five walks and struck out four in 3. 2 innings before giving way to Talbot.

“It was a weekend where our kids learned what a good program is,” Bourgeois said. “Year in and year out, Opelousas Catholic’s up there in Class 2A. Everything you preach is pitching, defense, good base running and timely hitting. They did that throughout the series.”