Timely hitting and solid pitching are the baseball equivalent of bread and butter. Both made Live Oak’s 4-1 victory over Zachary in District 4-5A a solid Saturday feast.
“It felt like every inning they had guys on base and we had guys on base,” Live Oak coach Jesse Cassard said. “I felt like we left a ton of guys on base.
“But we got a couple of big hits. And when you have a guy who can pound the strike zone and keep his composure … that’s big.”
The guy Cassard referred to, junior left-hander Dawson Curtin (6-0), struck out six in 4⅓ innings of relief and gave up just three hits. Meanwhile, catcher Blaise Priester finished 2 for 3 at the plate with two doubles, including one that brought in two runs.
Grant Landry and Cameran Christ also had two hits for the Eagles (22-4, 2-0), who travel to play Walker (19-4, 2-0) in 4-5A action at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Live Oak beat Zachary 2-1 in their first 4-5A game Thursday.
“My focus was getting a first-pitch strike on each batter and then spotting up my off-speed stuff after that,” Curtin said. “My team picked me up with big outs on defense.”
Live Oak started the bottom of the first with three hits off starter Zachary Lane Felder, including a leadoff double by Priester. A single by Landry scored courtesy runner Jeffrey Swearingen.
But the Broncos evened the score in the top of the second. Live Oak starter Branson McCoy hit Reed Felder with a pitch. Reed Felder second on an error, but was later caught in a rundown. Jamari Vallery reached on a fielder’s choice and later scored on a groundout by Brady Neyland.
The Eagles took the lead for good in the bottom of the second. Renton Childers reached on an error and Reid Broussard was hit by pitch one out later, setting up a two-RBI double down the left-field line by Priester that gave Live Oak a 3-1 lead.
“I really like to jump on pitches early in the count to give our team a spark,” Priester said. “I knew their guy today (Lane Felder) had a pretty decent slider and fastball. Those were the pitches I was waiting on.”
Live Oak added another run in the third on an RBI single by Cameran Christ.
Matthew Keller, who finished 2 for 3, was the only player for Zachary (12-11, 0-2) with multiple hits. The Broncos had only four hits, but stranded eight baserunners compared to seven for Live Oak.
“We had our opportunities and did not take advantage of them, which is why we got beat,” Zachary coach Jacob Fisher said. “In 2019, we lost three games to start district and won seven in a row to win the district title. Now it’s about focusing our next game ... Denham Springs.”