By Trent Friedel | Exclusive to the Times
The Tiger baseball team went down in two games to the Catholic of Point Coupee Hornets last week to end their post season run. The Tigers ended the regular season with a 22-5 record and were the number four seed starting the playoffs. After the bats were explosive for much of the season, they fell off in the playoffs. Saint Mary’s was unable to plate more than six runs in any of their playoff games. They beat St. Frederick’s in the first game of the post season 4-3 and dropped game two 2-0, forcing a game three winner take all and advance. In that game, the Tigers made a statement that they were ready to move on to quarterfinal action. They pulled away to a 6-1 victory.
Saint Mary’s remained the home team as the higher seed and played Catholic of Pont Coupee in the best of three series. Saint Mary’s was denied three runs in the first game on questionable calls. Both teams scored two runs in the first and CPC led 3-2 before Patrick Vienne went yard in the third inning with a runner on to put the Tigers up 4-3. Another crazy set of events erased two runs for the Tigers in the bottom of the fifth. With two out in the inning, the SMH batter swung and missed a two-strike offering but the pitch was in the dirt. The catcher corralled the ball and rolled it back to the mound instead of making the throw down to first to end the inning.
Saint Mary’s runners, on the instruction of coach Brooks McMinn continued to round the bases and score. After contesting the call, the home plate umpire consulted with the other officiators and it was ruled that runs scored and the inning would go on. After an equal appeal from the Catholic coaching staff, that call was reversed and instead of leading 6-3, the Tigers only led by one run 4-3 going into the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, the Hornets rallied plating three runs to win 6-4. Saint Mary’s trailing one game to none needed to win game two to stay alive and force a game three to advance. They did just that in game two winning 5-3 and hoping they could pull out the win in game three. Catholic Point Coupe put two runs across in the first inning and things start off looking bleak for the Tigers. That would change in the third when Payne Williams scores from third on the throwing error from the catcher to third. Saint Mary’s strands two runners in the third. In the bottom of the fourth, the SMH leadoff hitter is on with a base hit. Ben Bienvenu is hit by pitch and that has two on with no outs.
A sac bunt by Drake Griffin advances the runners. Mixon Bankston loads the bases with one out with a base on balls. The next batter is out but the following batter is hit by pitch and the tying run scores before the inning ends. Saint Mary’s stranded two more runners in the fifth and sixth innings. Catholic of PC scores one run in the top of the seventh on a triple by Achee. That run puts the Hornets up 3-2.
They are not done as another score crosses on base hit. The Hornets lead 4-2 and Ethan Busby is relieved after going 6 and 1/3 innings. Saint Mary’s is unable to answer in the bottom of the seventh and is eliminated for post season play by Catholic of Point Coupee. It was a great season for the young Tiger team who took home a treasure trove of District accolades. Posting a final record of 29-8, Saint Mary’s had the entire starting line-up as first team all district. Vienne was the District 3-1A MVP and will play summer ball before beginning his collegiate baseball stint at LSUE.
Coach McMinn was the District Coach of the Year. He was immensely proud of his team and offered the following. “It didn’t end the way we wanted to, but after being about a week removed from the season, I couldn’t be prouder of our guys. We were three outs away from a trip to Sulphur with a team of 13 players. I think all our guys did some big time growing up in the two-playoff series.
The intensity of those two series is going to better prepare them in our future playoff runs in every sport. I’m grateful for that looking forward.” On his two senior players that really stepped up for this young group, coach said, “The leadership of Patrick Vienne and Noah Heard was huge this year. With such a young group, we needed some older guys to step up as leaders. They set the groundwork for a very bright future; I will forever be grateful for their leadership this year.” Hold your heads high Tigers, the future is indeed bright and now you have the playoff experience to aid in next seasons run.