Opelousas Catholic baseball coach Justin Boyd said his team’s appearance in this week’s upcoming Class 2A state tournament will be a lot different than it was two years ago.
Based on the Vikings’ most recent performance, it would be hard to argue.
No. 5 Opelousas Catholic capped a sweep of No. 4 Episcopal in its Class 2A state quarterfinal, following up Friday’s 5-2 victory with a 9-1 win Saturday.
The Vikings (27-7) carry a seven-game win streak into Friday’s noon Class 2A semifinal against No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas at Sulphur’s McMurray Park.
“Last time we were just happy to be there,” Boyd said. “We’re going to go at it as much as we can. We’re not going to be shocked by anything. We have four everyday starters that know what it’s about it.”
For the second straight game OC, which didn’t trail the entire series, started with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first. The Vikings answered Episcopal’s lone run in the second with one in the third before blowing the game open in the fourth and sixth innings.
The Vikings piled up nine hits against four pitchers with Caleb Theriot (3-for-3, two stolen bases) and Sam Jarrell (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) leading the way.
“We wanted to go and jump on them early,” OC third baseman Matt Collins said. “It’s a lot easier to take control of a game than come from behind. There’s a lot more stress in that.”
Collins was part of a three-run fourth inning that enabled OC to stretch its 3-1 lead into a 6-1 advantage.
Episcopal (24-8) opted to intentionally walk first baseman Spencer Gardner to get to Collins with Theriot at second following a single and stolen base.
Collins promptly turned on a 1-0 pitch from reliever Clayton Talbot, driving it over the 300-foot marker in left-center field for a three-run homer.
“They did the same exact thing Friday, and I grounded out,” Collins said. “When it happened again, I knew I had to hit something hard and that happened.”
Jarrell, who had a sacrifice fly in the first, added another RBI during a three-run sixth inning with a single to left through a drawn-in infield. Gaige St. Cyr added a sacrifice fly and pinch-runner Devin Thierry scored on a wild pitch.
Sophomore left-hander Conner Castille (7-1) overcame a bout of early nerves to throw a complete-game four-hitter. After walking two batters in the first and loading the bases in the second on three singles, Castille faced one over the minimum batters from the third to the seventh.
Castille, who initiated one of two double plays for an errorless defense, struck out two and threw 53 of 91 pitches for strikes.
“It made it more comfortable knowing the defense was making plays,” Castille said. “I didn’t have to worry about throwing strikes and having the whole weight of the game on my back.”