Despite a late rally by No. 30 Central, Jesuit held on to defeat the Wildcats 7-4 Tuesday night in a Class 5A bidistrict playoff game at John Ryan Stadium.
With the win, the No. 3 Blue Jays will play Catholic League rival Rummel in a best-of-three series. The Raiders defeated Hahnville 5-3 in 10 innings.
The Wildcats got their first run in the first inning when Cole Edgens scored on a error by a Jesuit outfielder who missed a fly ball that allowed Edgens to score.
Jesuit (28-5) then took a 2-1 lead in the second inning as Dan Edmund’s sacrifice bunt scored Spencer Miller and Stephen Sigle to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. Edmund then scored on a wild pitch that extended the lead to 3-1.
In the fourth, Central (17-17) loaded the bases with one out when Jesuit hurler Brandon Sequeira hit Caleb Harris. However, the Wildcats flew out two straight times to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth with no outs and after two batters, Central made lineup changes. Starting pitcher Preston Fondren was moved to center field. Edgens, who started at shortstop took over on the mound. James Schopp, who started in center, was moved to shortstop.
But Jesuit kept scoring. Sequeira reached on a sacrifice bunt and went to second on an error that enabled Clayton Deron to score for a 4-1 lead.
Jesuit’s Trent Forshag hit a three-run double that scored Nick Ray, Alex Galy and Scott Crabtree to extend the lead to 7-1 in the fourth.
Jesuit coach Joey Latino said that hit was an important for his team.
“That separated us from 4-1 to 7-1,” he said. “When the playoffs start, you can throw those seed numbers right out the window. This is a very good team from a very good district. They’re scrappy, they played hard and they created some scoring opportunities for themselves late. Fortunately, we had the big lead at that point, and it was able to hold up.”
The Wildcats tinkered with the lineup again and those moves included moving Caleb Harris to the mound at the 5.2-inning mark.
Jesuit’s Glenn Hyer relieved Sequeira after five innings. Sequeira struck out five and allowed three hits.
Central cut the Jesuit lead in the sixth. Bryce Dantin grounded out to shortstop, which scored Chris Chambliss to cut the score to 7-2.
Jordan Wilkins then singled in Fondren and Brennan Fontenot scored on a later play to cut the lead to 7-4.
Latino said Tuesday’s first-round win is the type of the game to be expected in the playoffs.
“They’re all going to be intense,” he said. “When this much is at stake, and you are facing the end of your season, teams are going to battle you to the last strike. They’re going to take you to the last out, and that’s exactly what Central did. You’ve got to tip your hats to them.”
Despite the Wildcats outhitting Jesuit 8-3, Central coach Mike Forbes said his team failed to capitalize on early scoring opportunities.
“When you kick it around against a good baseball team, a top five baseball team, they’re going to make you pay,” he said. “We just didn’t quite execute early in the game like we had planned to.”
Forbes said the late rally symbolized how the team played during the regular season.
“I love all these guys and the fight that they showed toward the end of the game is what we’ve been doing all year. We’ve never been out of a game. We always battled back. That’s just a testament to how hard these guys worked throughout the whole year.”