GONAZLES — East Ascension senior right-hander Tanner Hebert flirted with a no-hitter all the way until the seventh inning in Tuesday evening’s District 5-5A opener against Catholic High.
Mason Zambo broke up Hebert’s no-hit bid with a one-out, final at-bat single, but the Spartans were all smiles after they defeated the Bears 5-0 at Johnny Ambeau Field.
“He’s been our bulldog all season long,” EA coach Kade Keowen said of Hebert, who finished with a two-hitter. “He feels like he can put the team on his back and throw seven innings every time he goes out there.”
East Ascension (12-7, 1-0) took the lead on Brock Hebert’s RBI single in the fourth inning. Brock Hebert added a two-run single in the sixth, when the Spartans tacked on four more runs, and Tanner Hebert was three outs away from a no-hitter.
After a strikeout, Zambo lined a clean single into right field. One out later, Daniel Harden bounced a single up the middle to give the Bears their only scoring threat of the game. Tanner Hebert got a strikeout, his ninth of the game, to close the door.
Catholic (9-12, 0-1) was hurt by giving out free bases and costly errors.
In the EA fourth, Catholic starter C.J. Sturiale plunked leadoff batter Dominick Regira. After moving to second base on a ground ball out, Regira scored on Brock Hebert’s two-out single to left.
In the sixth, the Spartans scored four runs on seven hits. They were helped by two throwing errors on pickoff attempts at first base, and by Sturiale’s only walk of the game.
Jacob Falgoust started the scoring with an RBI single, and Kael Babin later added one of his own as the Spartans' lead grew to 5-0.
“We’re not a team that hits the ball around the ballpark a bunch,” Keowen said. “When we get two strikes, we’ve got to put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense. We were able to do that tonight.”
Until the seventh, Catholic’s only baserunner was Sturiale, who fouled off three two-strike pitches before drawing a two-out walk in the second inning. Tanner Hebert retired the next 14 Catholic batters after the walk.
Catholic’s hardest-hit ball of the night came in the fourth, when Zambo’s fly ball to right field sent Regira to the warning track to make the catch.
“I still love my guys and I still believe in my guys,” Catholic coach Brad Bass said. “This is just the district opener. There’s still a lot of baseball left to be played.”
The teams play again Wednesday at Catholic High. The Spartans will start Regira on the mound while Cole Cranford will start for the Bears.