Holy Cross and Rummel split their two regular-season games this season.
The Tigers won the one that mattered the most.
Christian Clayton dominated Rummel on the mound, and Holy Cross broke the game open in the sixth inning for a 7-1 victory in a first-round Class 5A playoff game Wednesday at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
Clayton was more than ready for the challenge.
“I’m a senior, so it’s win or go home,” Clayton said. “I like the pressure and having my team counting on me, and I was able to come up big for them tonight.”
Holy Cross (20-13) advances to the second round and will travel to play No. 2 seed Catholic High of Baton Rouge in a best-of-three series.
It was just the kind of game Tigers coach Greg Battistella was hoping for after his Tigers had dropped five of their last six.
“Our morale was down, but the kids really bounced back today,” Battistella said.
Rummel, which committed six errors, finished 20-13.
Clayton (6-3), who committed to Tulane as a sophomore before de-committing after the Green Wave made a coaching change, gave up just two hits and finished with seven strikeouts in six innings.
“He was good,” Battistella said. “He’s been good all year. He is the best kept secret in New Orleans. He will be somebody’s college pitcher. Whoever wants him, tell them to call. He has grades, he has ACT, he throws 87 and he’s good. In a big game in a big situation with the lights on, he delivered (Wednesday night).”
Brendan Tarravella pitched the seventh and had two strikeouts.
Clayton got plenty of run support in the game-changing sixth, helping his own cause.
Clayton and Tre Turner, also a star running back for the Tigers, had back-to-back RBI singles in the inning. Cyle Clayton, Christian’s brother, drove in two more runs with a single. Rummel didn’t help itself in the inning, committing three of its errors in the inning.
“As soon as we saw the draw, we told the kids whoever makes the most routine plays is going to win this game,” Rummel coach Nick Monica said. “We didn’t. And not only did they make the routine plays, they made phenomenal plays. They played great defense, and that’s what it’s all about. You have to tip your hat to those guys.”
Holy Cross third baseman Cyle Clayton and right fielder Kyle Schexnayder robbed Rummel’s Scott Wetzel of a pair of hits in the second and fourth innings with defensive gems.
Clayton carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Rummel’s Chase Fourcade finally broke it up with a single up the middle. Tyler Neece followed it with a double, but the Raiders couldn’t score.
The game was tied at 1 through the first six innings, despite Rummel’s sloppy defense.
The Raiders scored in the first inning on a sacrifice fly to right by Darren Willis that drove in Kevin Meehan.
Holy Cross tied it in the next inning.
Mickey Toscano, the No. 8 hitter in the Tigers lineup, hit a solo homer to left in the second inning to tie it at 1. It was the third homer of the season for the sophomore.
“That was kind of like the pin going into the balloon, and we relaxed,” Battistella said.
It stayed that way until the sixth when Holy Cross put it away.
Cole Naleznik and Christian Clayton had two hits each to lead Holy Cross, the No. 18 seed that will take on No. 2 seed Catholic in a series that starts Friday
“I know they are very good,” Battistella said. “We are going to go give it our best shot.”