West Monroe won its 18th game in its last 19, capitalizing on “a half dozen mistakes” by Jesuit and winning the first game in a regional-round matchup 9-7 at John Ryan Stadium on Friday night.
West Monroe (27-9) will start Hayden Frost in Game 2 of the in the best-of-three series at 1 p.m Saturday. Frost usually pitches in the No. 1 spot of the Rebels rotation. He will likely face Jesuit’s Brandon Bruglio, Jesuit’s No. 2 starter. A second game, if needed, will be played one hour after the first game.
After jumping out to a 9-2 lead, Jesuit broke the mystery of the Rebels starter, Clay Rickard (7-1) in the seventh inning.
Jesuit banged out six singles and added two hit batters to score five times in the final inning before reliever Dustin Mitchell induced a pop fly to left by Bruglio to end the game.
“We know this is not over, by any stretch of the imagination,” Rebels coach Wade Simoneaux said. “I knew our starter (a soft-tossing left-hander) was the kind of pitcher that would keep a good hitting team off-balance.
Rikard did just that.
“We kept getting out on the front foot,” Jesuit coach Joey Latino said. “We hit some balls hard, but they’d played us well . . . with some modified shifts.
“He pounded the strike zone (93 pitches in the first six innings), changed speeds and kept us off balance. “But we make a half dozen mistakes and it cost us at least four runs.
“We can’t do that against a team this good.”
Jesuit starter Jack Burk (5-1) struggled, and West Monroe took advantage in the third, scoring three runs to take a 5-0 lead. The Rebels added three more runs in the fifth to make it 8-1.
“They got the big lead and playing catch up all night makes it tough,” Latino said.
During the third, the Rebels pieced together three singles, two walks, a hit batter and a stolen base. Jesuit also added a wild pitch and a passed ball to the inning.
In the fifth, Slade Bolden led off with a bunt single, the third of four times he reached base. Dylan Snowden followed with a single and then Chandler Neal’s perfect sacrifice bunt resulted in a throwing error that led to a run and put runners on second and third.
Kyle Brandon squeeze bunt knocked in the second run and Young singled in the third run of the inning.
“This is who we are,” Simoneaux said. “Anyone in our lineup will bunt, run, hit-and-run or hit.”
Jesuit, which had an eight-game win streak snapped, scored single runs in the second and fifth innings.
Dan Edmund doubled home a run in the second and Bruglio singled in Alex Galy in the fifth. Galy had tripled, his third of four hits. He also reached when hit by a pitch in the seventh.
“We were really playing well during our streak,” Latino said. “They played extremely well in all phases and we didn’t.”