SULPHUR – The North Vermilion baseball team was looking for its first state championship since 1994, but they were going to have to take down top-seeded Tioga to do so.
The No. 3-seeded Patriots scored five runs after two innings, but then fought off a comeback to take a 5-3 victory for the Class 4A state title Saturday night at McMurry Park.
The Patriots’ bats did what they needed to win and were complimented by an outstanding performance by ace pitcher John Touchet.
“It was destiny for us to win today,” Patriots coach Jeremy Trahan said. “It was amazing. He is 11-0 on the season. Every time he’s out there we have a chance to win. People have been struggling to hit him all year long. He’s made huge strides this season. Just extremely impressed with what he’s done all year long.”
Touchet was named Most Outstanding Player and improved his to 12-0, pitching 6.2 innings and staying strong through a high pitch count.
“I wasn’t worried about it (pitch count),” Touchet said. “It’s the last game of the year, you’ve got to put everything on the line. It’s not just about me, it’s about the whole team. We needed the win for North Vermilion. It was amazing. The crowd keeps you alive, great atmosphere.
“I had all three (pitches). Not every pitcher’s going to have all their pitches every day, so it was great coming out and being able to compete with everything. It would’ve been a lot better if I could’ve got the last out, but you’ve got to depend on your family sometimes. That’s what I did, and we got the out, and we’re state champs.”
Touchet was relieved by Cole Veronie to get the final out in the seventh, and Veronie ended the game with a strikeout looking.
“His pitch count got up there at the end, so we had to make a move,” Trahan said. “Cole Veronie came in, he’s been our guy out the bullpen all year long. He got the job done like he’s been doing it all year. He’s been in probably 15 games for us, and that’s what he does.
"He comes in and shuts the door. John did a great job. I’m just so proud of these kids for the fight and the effort. Big team win.”
The Indians pulled off a comeback in the 2019 state championship game over Breaux Bridge, but the Patriots didn’t let a moment switch get to them.
“We came out locked in, we were ready to go,” Trahan said. “Our kids were amped up. We talked before we left school about leaving your legacy and this being their time, and they were ready to go. These kids have done amazing all season long. They’re young, but they just fought and did what they were supposed to do all season.”
The Patriots' title was especially sweet, considering it had been almost 30 years since they last won it.
“It’s amazing, the community was here in support,” Trahan said. “We knew it was going to be like that, It’s a once in a lifetime experience, so we appreciate everything they did for us today. We actually have a lot of kids who had relatives on that (1994) team, so it’s great to bring one back."
"We work hard every year to be able to do this, and this year we just pushed through and just kept working. These kids bought in and kept fighting and just did things the right way the whole season. I’m very proud of them. I’m just so happy for these kids and this community.”
The Patriots finish with a 33-7 record and have a bright future with the majority of their starters being sophomores and juniors, including Touchet.
“It was amazing,” Touchet said. “A lot of pressure, but you’ve got to just look at the big picture. Do it for your family, do it for your team, for the community. We got the W, and that’s all it’s about. It’s a dream come true. Hopefully we do it again next year and don’t stop.”