SULPHUR – The Opelousas Catholic baseball team had developed a reputation for comebacks, and they fought hard to continue that in the Division IV state championship game.
On Friday, the No. 7-seeded Vikings were facing No. 1-seeded Ouachita Christian at McMurry Park. The Vikings, though, failed to outslug the Eagles in a 10-6 loss.
The Eagles broke things open with a three-run home run by Connor Mulhern in the bottom of the fifth inning to make it 10-5, but the Vikings didn’t quit.
“I was proud of them,” Vikings coach Justin Boyd said. “It was a long year, but I thought we brought a lot of excitement to our school. Couldn’t win the final one, but I think everybody’s really, really proud of this team.”
“We wanted to be in it at the end. It was going to be close going in, I think we put a zero up in the middle innings, and then the bunt inning kind of got to us and then the three-inning, back-to-back hurt really bad. We just didn’t play good enough, they did enough and we didn’t.”
The Vikings rallyied in the top of the sixth inning, but they only scored one run because of a controversial infield fly call where the Eagles' second baseman dropped a popup with the bases loaded no outs.
“He (the umpire) thought it was a catchable ball,” Boyd said. “Just sucks that those guys missed that, big play in the game. That didn’t lose the game, but it was a big play. We’ve got to overcome that, but too late now, no instant replay. I definitely thought it killed the momentum for us a little bit there, but in the end, (Ouachita Christian) is a good team. They swung the bats, they pitched good enough to win, we didn’t. The better team won.”
The Eagles got to Viking’ starting pitcher Alex Breaux early. Jace Sloane came on in relief. Sloane who pitched relatively well other than giving up the three-run homer.
“I definitely thought it was going to be high scoring after the first couple innings,” Boyd said. “They came out swinging it in the first inning. We just couldn’t get a big play to get us out the inning. Then the inning where they made bunts and we couldn’t get an out on a bunt really hurt. We started the inning with a groundout there to (shortstop) that we threw away, so we had opportunities to get outs when we needed to and didn’t do it.”
Boyd was proud of his team's never-say-die attitude in the playoffs.
“I think we proved the last three weeks that it’s not over until we get that third out,” Boyd said. "I know the last inning we still thought we had a chance even though we were down four with nobody on and two outs. We just didn’t get it done this time, but I’m really proud of the kids.”
Things look bright next season for the Vikings with several starters returning.
“I thought the kids pulled for each other from the beginning,” Boyd said. “They always liked playing with each other. I never have any problems off the field with them. I’m just really proud of the kids and the way they pull for each other. They showed me a lot this year.”