Title games that feature teams from the smaller classifications take their turn in the spotlight as the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Baseball tournament enters its third day. Think it might be nice to chalk up one for the little guys?
Doyle and Runnels would rather take two — titles that is.
Second-seeded Doyle of Class 2A and No. 5 Runnels of Division V are determined to make the most of their title-game appearances Monday at Sulphur’s McMurry Park.
“At the beginning of the year I’m not sure I expected us to be where we are,” Doyle catcher Cole Mack said. “All year long we’ve been able to score runs and get good pitching. Now that we are here, it is important for to do our best. This is something we can do for ourselves, our school and Livingston Parish.”
The Tigers (29-11) face fifth-seeded Kinder, a traditional 2A power and a local favorite, in the Class 2A title game set for 6 p.m. on field 41.
Runnels (15-14) meets second-seeded Northside Christian of Crowley, at noon on field 41.
“I have so much confidence in my teammates,” Runnels center fielder Collin Bueche said. “We believe in each other. Our record is not as good as some of the other teams. We lost close games and had to get through some tough times that I think has made us stronger.”
Doyle is in an LHSAA baseball title game for the first time since 2001 when the Tigers competed in Class B. Doyle and its coach Tim Beatty know about Kinder’s tradition first-hand. The Tigers lost to Kinder in a 2015 semifinal and Kinder went on to win its second straight title that year. The Yellow Jackets were semifinalists a year ago.
Runnels won its last title in Class B in 2008, a couple of years after current Raider coach Ben Young helped Runnels advance to a combined 1A, B and C tournament held then in Alexandria.
“This group has the desire,” Young said. “Two years ago we won one game and they have worked to get to this point.”
The tourney's two-day rain delay gives Young the chance to throw ace Ricky Harrison for the second time in the tournament. Northside used two pitchers, Dustin Hernandez and Keegan Foreman, in its semifinal win and is expected to do the same again.
Doyle’s Beatty is expected to start Brock Adams, keeping sophomore ace Andrew Yuratich ready to step in.
“All year long we’ve focused on preparation and being ready for every opponent,” Beatty said. “This one is no different. It just happens to be the last game.”