St. Michael the Archangel baseball coach Johnny Berhard certainly likes when a plan comes together with such precision.
The Warriors checked all the requisite boxes Tuesday in a convincing 13-0 mercy-rule victory in five innings over No. 31 DeRidder in a Class 4A state first-round state playoff game.
Not only did St. Michael (21-7-1) erupt for nine runs through two innings, it did so against five pitchers. The Warriors pitchers combined on a two-hitter.
“We kind of wanted to make an early statement and get the momentum, and we were able to do that,” Bernhard said. “Our plan going in was to knock their starter out of the game and get into their bullpen. We knew we’d have to have a fast start regardless of who they started.”
Led by the 2-for-3 performance of first baseman Michael Smith, who had three RBIs, along with left fielder Mitch Roe’s 2-for-3 outing with a RBI and a three-run homer from right fielder Hayden Salles, St. Michael piled up nine hits and took advantage of six walks.
St. Michael, a state semifinalist the past two seasons, will host No. 15 Beau Chene in a best-of-three state regional series starting at 4 p.m. Friday.
“The first round of the playoffs is always tough to get started,” said Smith, who will sign Thursday with Baton Rouge Community College. “We knew if we got started early and played our game we would come away with a win.”
Smith ignited St. Michael’s five-run first inning with a two-run double to left-center field and after catcher Ross Scelfo walked on four pitches, DeRidder starter Kirby Cooley was pulled after throwing 12 pitches.
“Our strategy coming in was to make a (pitching) change if they built any momentum, and it didn’t work,” said DeRidder coach Chad Menard, whose team finished 13-17. “It happened real fast, and that prompted the change in the worst way for us.”
Salles’ RBI groundout and Roe’s run-scoring single to right capped the opening inning.
Smith drove in his third run with single to left field, Scelfo added a sacrifice fly to center off DeRidder’s second reliever — Gage Johnson — followed by Salles’ two-out, three-run homer to left-center field to make it 9-0.
Starter Scott Terrell, who worked two innings, led a parade of four pitchers for St. Michael that also included one-innings stints from Evan Becnel, Mason Gremillion and Cayde Miller.
They threw 53 of 79 pitches for strikes and combined to walk one batter and strike out 10.
“The key to that plan working is each guy coming in and doing his job,” Bernhard said. “Each and every kid stepped up on the mound and got the outs we needed and executed like we wanted.”