SULPHUR — It looked like St. Michael the Archangel had St. Thomas More ace Hogan Harris right where they wanted him.
The Warriors got runners on base, loading the bases with no outs in the top of the fifth. St. Michael scratched out a run. Harris had thrown 116 pitches.
And then the bottom fell out.
Five walks, a hit batter, two RBI hits and seven runs later it was over — second-seeded St. Thomas More walked away with a 12-2 five-inning victory over the Warriors in a Class 4A semifinal that concluded Thursday’s action at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Baseball tournament.
“We were a little out-gunned tonight,” St. Michael coach Johnny Bernhard said. “We knew that St. Thomas More was extremely talented. We had a pretty aggressive game plan and thought it was working for a while.
“We got Harris up to 116 pitches in five innings. We were out of gas on the mound. We’ve been a team all year that has pitched to contact. We haven’t had trouble with walks or giving up double-digit runs. We didn’t command it like we needed to. Against St. Thomas More, you can’t do that.”
The Cougars (29-8) advance to advance face District 5-4A rival Teurlings Catholic (24-9) in the 4A title game set for Saturday at McMurry Park. St. Michael (23-11) made back-to-back tourney appearances for the first time in school history.
The semifinal rematch was played Thursday at McMurry Park was not a repeat of STM’s 4-1 win from a year earlier. Harris (6-1) struggled with his control. The left-hander allowed only two hits — both to Christopher Reid — and struck out six. But he also walked six and hit two batters.
St. Michael didn’t fare much better. Four Warriors pitchers gave up five hits but walked 11.
“I started looking at the situation, and Harris wasn’t throwing strikes,” STM coach Gary Perkins said. “Now some of the pitches looked like they could have been strikes but still it was like that on both sides. Hogan wasn’t sharp tonight, but this team isn’t about pitching only.”
Harris fell behind all but one of the batters he faced in the first inning. The left-hander got a pick-me-up from his defense when second baseman Wil Bellamy who corralled a blooper by Michael Smith and doubled Reid off second base.
The Cougars loaded the bases with no outs, thanks to singles by Brandon Romero and Brennan Breaux. O’Neal Lochridge walked. Romero scored on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly by Christian Leonard scored Breaux.
St. Michael got on the board in the top of the second. Harris walked two more batters. Reid lashed a double down the right-field line to score Garrett Hamilton.
STM more than doubled its lead soon after. Romero and Breaux both drew walks to open the bottom of the third. Lochridge reached on an error to load the bases, setting the stage for a two-run double to center by Mason Templet with no outs.
Evan Becnel came on to relieve Jonathan Lofton and yielded a sacrifice fly to Hunter Langlinais to make it 5-1.
The Warriors scratched out another run in the fifth. Harris walked two and hit two batters with one out. A walk brought Reid in to score. Becnel was one of three SMHS pitchers in the fifth. Bellamy’s two RBI double and a two-RBI hit by Breaux ended it.
“I’m not sure the score tells the whole story,” Reid said. “We had our shots. Sometimes it falls your way, sometimes it doesn’t.”
TEURLINGS CATHOLIC 16, TIOGA 1: Fifth-seeded Teurlings (24-9) scored 11 runs over the final three innings to overwhelm top-seeded Tioga (29-6) in the other Class 4A semifinal played Thursday.
Josh Taylor scattered eight hits and struck out four for the Rebels.
Nick Webre was 4-for-5 with four runs scored and one RBI for the winners. Caleb Lasseigne and Nathan Arceneaux each finished 3-for-5. Lasseigne had four RBIs.