Practice makes perfect, even when it comes to dogpiles.
The second-seeded St. Charles Catholic baseball team scored four runs in the final two innings to rally for a 4-3 victory in eight innings over No. 7 Holy Savior Menard to complete a two-game sweep in the Class 2A quarterfinal series at Russell Gaudet Jr. Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“Believe it or not, because it wasn’t pretty, but we practiced the dogpile this morning,” St. Charles Catholic coach Wayne Stein said. “I wanted them to know what it was going to feel like. I just can’t say enough about my kids. They’re so resilient, and we deserve this. We are where we expected to be. We’re going to Sulphur to try to win a state championship. This is where we belong.”
St. Charles will play district foe and sixth-seeded Riverside in the semifinals on Friday at 1 p.m. in Sulphur. The winner will advance to the state championship on Saturday at 3 p.m.
“It’s a rivalry, and we like it,” Stein said. “It says a lot about the river parishes and our district. I’m proud that we’re one of four teams left, and that two of them are from our district. At least we won’t have to make any phone calls to ask about a scouting report. I think we know each other pretty well, so it should be a heck of a contest.”
Trailing 3-0 heading into the top of the seventh, the Comets (28-8) rallied. Trevor Arceneaux walked, and pinch hitter Brandon Lemonie singled to put two on with one out. Sophomore Lloyd Nash provided the big hit with a two-run triple and later scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.
“We were struggling early on, but we knew we just had to keep battling,” Nash said. “We wanted this bad. Home crowd. Great atmosphere. Being down the whole game and finding a way to come out on top, it feels great.”
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning, the Comets took the lead in the eighth as catcher Brady Newman led off with a double. After the Comets loaded the bases with two outs, courtesy runner Dustin Mire scored on Lloyd’s infield single to give the Comets their first lead.
The Eagles (23-8) tried to rally in the bottom of the eighth, but baserunning mistakes proved costly. John Roy, who blasted a solo home run in the sixth, tripled with one out to chase starter Brennan Gilberti.
On his first pitch, reliever Evan Pfister induced a hard ground ball to third baseman Zach Roussel, who tagged Roy out for the second out. On the next pitch, Newman picked off Jonathan Levassuer at first to end the game.
“I just saw that dude get off the base, and I thought ‘This dude is out no matter what,’ ” Newman said. “I threw it right on the base and got him. It feels amazing. We knew we had to get it done. That dogpile was just awesome. The best feeling you could ever get.”
Gilberti (9-2) got the win, going 7.1 innings allowing three runs on five hits with four walks. Pfister got the two-pitch save.
“I came out, and I was struggling, but I worked through it,” Gilberti said. “I wanted to win this one for my brothers. Once we started hitting, we realized that we didn’t want to play another (quarterfinal) game, so we just made it happen. It feels great.”
Menard sophomore Bailey Crowe took the loss after holding the Comets hitless through the first four innings. He allowed four runs on eight hits in 7-plus innings. He struck out two and issued one walk.
Menard coach J.C. Holt said his young squad will learn from the painful loss.
“Anytime that you get in a situation and you can’t close it out, it stings a little bit,” he said. “The balls just didn’t bounce our way. Credit to St. Charles, they made fewer mistakes that we did. We had a good season, but we just have to figure out how to win games in big situations.”