There was elation framed by frustration as Brusly claimed a 5-1 victory over Parkview Baptist in a District 7-3A baseball showdown Wednesday night at PBS.
The Panthers (22-7, 7-2) scored all their runs on four hits in the third inning and rode the arms of pitchers Luke LeBlanc and Evan Daigle the rest of the way.
“The kids played hard,” Brusly coach Tait Dupont said. “All we wanted was a chance to play for a district title and now we have one. But we’ve got to come out ready to play Friday.”
The Brusly win snapped an eight-game winning streak for Parkview (19-11, 8-1), which was looking to clinch its 15th straight district title with a win. The Eagles got a stellar performance from reliever Alex O’Neal, who gave up two hits in 4.2 innings as BHS got six hits. But PBS stranded 13 baserunners as Brusly worked its way out of bases-loaded jams twice. The Eagles had runners on second and third another time and finished with five hits.
“We had one bad inning defensively and we didn’t pitch as well as we could have,” PBS coach Darron Mitchell said. “When you have 13 runners left on base, the bases loaded and a pitcher like that on the ropes you’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities.
“(LeBlanc) wasn’t great tonight, but he battled and that’s what Dupont teaches those guys. They beat us and now we’ve got to get ready for Friday.”
The teams meet again at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Brusly with the Panthers needing a win to clinch a share of the 7-3A title.
LeBlanc (7-2) walked eight batters and was lifted with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Daigle got a pop-up and a ground out to end the sixth and struck out three of the four batters he faced in the seventh to pick up the save.
“I walked a lot of people and you really can’t do that,” LeBlanc said. “But on my glove I have one pitch written and I look at it after every pitch. That’s my motivation to keep going … just make the next pitch.”
Of course, the five-run third inning also helped LeBlanc’s cause. The game started out on an odd note when a funnel cloud swooped down before the game and picked up a couple of tarps and pulled them in the air.
Brusly stormed ahead in the third. Brennan Allen reached on an infield hit to lead off and was sacrificed to second before Kwanston Adkins launched a triple over the head of PBS center fielder Pryce Fletcher to score the first run.
Blake Manola walked and stole second before Daigle reached on an error that scored both runners to make it 3-0. Daigle stole second and scored on LeBlanc’s double. A single by Landon Andre made it 5-0. O’Neal came on in relief of starter Hunter Joubert (4-1), who took the loss, giving up just Andre’s hit.
Parkview scratched out a run in the bottom of the third. Fletcher walked, stole second and moved to third on a ground out before scoring on Chris Dupont’s bunt down the first base line.
The Eagles loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth when LeBlanc issued three walks. But the left-hander got a strikeout to end the inning. After O’Neal retired Brusly in order for the first time in the top of the fifth, the Eagles had another chance to get closer in the bottom of the inning.
Adam Tarver drew a leadoff walk, but strayed too far away from second after a single to left center by Austin Taylor. Hayden Nickens singled, sending pinch runner Eric Penn to third. The Eagles got runners to second and third before before LeBlanc got another strikeout to end the threat.
Parkview had another scoring chance in the bottom of the sixth, again loading the bases. Pinch hitter Jacob Alford doubled and LeBlanc walked Fletcher before Daigle came in. Daigle walked one batter, but worked out the jam and closed out the game.