LAFAYETTE — Denham Springs coach baseball coach Mark Carroll said his team played way more inspired Saturday against St. Thomas More than they did Friday against Catholic at the Atchafayla Challenge.
“Friday, we were the Bad News Bears,” Carroll said. “We were a T-ball team Friday. Today, we came out mentally sharper against a good team and competed. We wanted to see the competitive part a little bit better than it was Friday, and we got it.”
Denham Springs got key doubles from Travis Swaggerty and in the third inning and Bailey Holstein in the fifth. Evan Jordan gave up two runs through five innings, and Swaggerty — the hard-throwing lefty committed to South Alabama — shut down the Cougars lineup in the sixth and seventh, securing the 7-4 win.
“Evan did a good job and gave us some good innings,” Carroll said. “Swaggerty came in did a good job. He competes so hard, when we can get him to back off that fastball a little bit, and let it run, it’s tough. It’s tough to see that much velocity from the left side with as much run as he has on it.”
STM walked nine, something Cougars coach Gary Perkins said has plagued his pitching staff all season. Still, Perkins said he was pleased with the Cougars’ effort and fight.
“Our defense played well, and we were aggressive at the plate,” Perkins said. “We played hard, but on the mound, we walked too many batters. You lose 7-4 and walk nine batters. That’s tough.”
The Cougars scored two runs in the sixth on a home run from Grant Cox. After that, Denham Springs put in Swaggerty who struck out the side in the sixth. He gave up a hit in the sixth, and Perkins said it was good to see his team their bats on Swaggerty’s pitches.
“We got to their starter (in the sixth), but the closer came in and he was sharp in the sixth inning,” Perkins said. (In the seventh), we got a few bats on it. This is a work in progress and hopefully we get all our pieces back and it starts coming together. I am definitely not down on my kids.”
Carroll said the Yellow Jackets did a good job manufacturing runs and running the bases — a complete 180 from Friday’s game. He said he was pleased with Swaggerty coming through as a closer.
“When we get a lead in the sixth or seventh, we want to bring Travis in to close it up,” Carroll said. “He wants to be in that role. A good closer has to have that mindset. He wants the ball in that situation. It makes it easy when they want it.”