DENHAM SPRINGS — The finality of a season and career were in the back of the mind of Denham Springs senior Travis Swaggerty.
Swaggerty watched first-hand the disappointment last year’s senior class endured when the Yellow Jackets were unable to get out of a best-of-three Class 5A state regional playoff series.
To matters worse, it happened at home at North Park’s A.B. Netterville Field.
Given the same opportunity, seventh-seeded Denham Springs parlayed another such home series into a jubilant send-off, rallying with a four-run fifth inning for a 6-2 victory Sunday to complete a sweep over No. 10 seed Destrehan.
“I didn’t want to have the same feeling the seniors had and go out on our field in the second round,” Swaggerty said. “We’ve kind of had a second-round curse the past couple of years and couldn’t get past it. This is a great group of seniors. We’ve been playing together for a long time, and I wanted to keep playing.”
Denham Springs (25-7) won for the eighth straight time and advances to Friday’s best-of-three state quarterfinal series at second-seeded Catholic High at a time to be determined.
It’s the first quarterfinal appearance for the Yellow Jackets since 2011.
“We played them and it was a 12-inning game,” Denham Springs coach Mark Carroll said of his team’s 6-3 loss to the Bears on March 15. “If we can get these next few games as good as that one, it will be some great high school baseball games.”
Denham Springs, which opened the series with a 10-2 win, trailed Destrehan (27-9) after the second inning when the Wildcats touched starter Bailey Holstein for a pair of runs on two hits during an extended 30-pitch inning.
“It was a matter of staying calm during the long inning,” Holstein said. “I kind of haven’t had my curveball the past couple of games. I’ve had it every now and then, and today I didn’t have my change-up. I was trying to find every pitch at the beginning.”
Denham Springs hadn’t solved Destrehan starter Cole Martin through the four innings, getting only an infield single from Swaggerty.
The fifth inning, though, was a different story when Martin completely lost his control, walking a total of five batters during 22-pitch inning.
Tristan Spedale and Ashton Martin drew back-to-back, bases-loaded walks to tie the game at 2-2 when Cole Martin was replaced by Nolan Theriot.
Theriot induced a double-play grounder off the bat of Reese Pourciau that scored another run before Swaggerty (2-for-3) drove in Spedale with an opposite-field single.
Destrehan had three of its five hits off Holstein in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with one out when Holstein (9-0) responded with a foul out to first baseman Brock Batty and fly out to Martin in center. The Jackets tacked on single runs in the sixth on Martin’s sacrifice fly and Matt Erwin’s RBI-single in the seventh.
“That was big because any hit scores two runs and that’s a big momentum shift,” said Holstein, who walked two and struck out seven in his 111-pitch outing. “Just to get back in the dugout was big.”