East Ascension and St. Amant's final district clash of the season was all about pitching.
East Ascension and St. Amant’s final district clash of the season was all about pitching.
The Gator tandem of Teddy Webb and Dwain Guice was nearly unhittable through all seven innings. Spartan pitching was solid through six, but it broke down in the seventh.
This allowed St. Amant to score two runs in the frame and close out a hard-fought 4-2 victory.
"We made a couple of mistakes in one inning, but they grinded it through and found a way to get some runs,” St. Amant head coach Troy Templet said. “Teddy pitched well. Dwain came in with a different look and pitched well."
The Gators struck in the top of the first as Ayden Phillips drew a leadoff walk and eventually came home to score on an RBI double by Landen Lieux.
In the third inning, some East Ascension miscues allowed them to stretch their lead to 2-0.
Phillips reached base on a fielder’s choice, and Tyson Cowart joined him following a Spartan fielding error.
Later, Cowart stole second. The throw to gun him down was errant, allowing Phillips to come home for the score.
Trailing 2-0, East Ascension was finally able to break through in the bottom of the fourth.
Grant Griffin got on base leadoff after a Gator fielding error, Cameron Schexnaildre singled and Blaise Foote reached base on a fielder’s choice.
A suicide squeeze by Carson Dabadie scored one run.
Kagan Wheat came up with an infield single. Another Gator fielding error allowed East Ascension to tie the game at 2-2.
After throwing six complete innings and allowing just six hits and one earned run, Foote’s night ended for the Spartans. Preston Thrash was brought in to close the game.
However, his problems with control allowed St. Amant to get things going offensively.
Thrash struck out Cowart, but the catcher couldn’t handle the third strike. Cowart was able to sprint safely to first base. Lieux then joined him following a single.
Cowart then came around to score after two straight wild pitches.
Following a Reed Babin walk, Zane Zeppuhar came through with a sac fly that allowed Lieux to score and give St. Amant a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Lieux did it with his glove. He made a diving grab from first base that prevented a Blake Peterson single.
Guice closed out the game by striking out two of the three Spartans he faced.
East Ascension was limited to just four hits. Those hits came from Schexnaildre, Dabadie, Wheat and Peterson.
Spartan head coach Kade Keowen didn’t regret going with Thrash in the seventh.
"Preston Thrash had some shoulder issues for much of the season, and he's just getting back on the mound. He threw last week, and he's throwing this week,” Keowen said. “It was a great opportunity for us to put him in that situation so he can be ready for the playoffs next week. Win, lose or draw, we wanted to put our guy out on the mound and give him that experience."
Despite the loss, Keowen said he likes how his team is playing heading into the postseason.
"We played lots of inexperienced people at the beginning of the year, and they got more and more reps,” Keowen said. “For us to finish 7-3 in this district is awesome for our guys. We started the season 5-11 and finished the back half 12-5. I think our momentum is going great.”
As for St. Amant, Lieux led the way from the plate as he went 2-3 with a walk and their lone RBI. Murray went 2-3.
Webb pitched five complete and surrendered just three hits and no earned runs.
Guice, a Southeastern signee, was their ace to start the season, but had to miss most of the year with a shoulder injury.
He came in and pitched two innings in relief in which he gave up just one hit and struck out four batters.
"He's vital to our success,” Templet said. “He understands his role. He's on a low pitch-count right now. We're trying to throw him twice this week. We'll rest him and hopefully have him ready for Tuesday of next week, maybe in a different role. We'll see. He has our players a little more excited when he gets into the game, because they know he has good stuff."