Spartans deny Gators share of district title

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
East Ascension’s Jordan Goodlow scores during the Spartans’ 6-2 victory over St. Amant.

St. Amant had an opportunity to win a share of the District 5-5A championship on Thursday night, but archrival East Ascension played the role of spoiler.

Two days after dropping a 5-2 contest against the Gators, the Spartans took the lead early and never let up. East Ascension got timely hits from the plate, and Tanner Hebert piled up eight strikeouts from the mound.

It led to a much-needed 6-2 Spartan victory. The win ended a 2-5 stretch for East Ascension.

“We were kind of skidding there for a couple of weeks as we were getting into district,” Spartan head coach Kade Keowen said. “Our last game at their park, things didn’t go our way. Slade Zeppuhar struck us out 10 times, so I challenged our hitters to be better with their two-strike approaches. And any time Tanner Hebert is on the mound, he gives us a chance to win. I was happy for our guys, especially for our seniors, winning their last game against St. Amant.”

Conversely, St. Amant head coach Brandon Bravata was disappointed with his team’s performance.

“We didn’t get ahead of many hitters early on,” Bravata said. “We had five walks, a hit-by-pitch and an error, which led to some opportunities for them. I thought they played with a whole lot more energy than we played with, and I thought the atmosphere overwhelmed us a little bit.”

The game was played in honor of former Spartan player Allen Rowell, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 2014. His family and friends were recognized on the field before the first pitch.

There will also be a softball tournament honoring Rowell’s memory at the Gonzales fields on May 8.

East Ascension took the lead in the first inning. After the bases were loaded, Tanner Hebert walked, allowing a run to score.

Up 1-0 in the third, the Spartans loaded the bases once again after Dax Powell and Jordan Goodlow singled and Kael Babin was hit by a pitch.

Brock Hebert then came up with a two-RBI single that made it 3-0.

St. Amant cut it to 3-1 in the fourth. Camron Planche reached base on a fielder’s choice, and he was sent home following a double by Blake LeBouef.

But East Ascension responded with a huge fifth inning.

The Spartans loaded the bases with walks by Tanner Hebert and Chance Mire and a bunt single by Landon Gautreau.

It set the table for a two-outs, two-RBI double by Dominick Regira that hit the wall at right-center. Powell also provided a sac fly to push the East Ascension lead to 6-1.

In the sixth, Cole Poirrier crushed a solo homer over the left-field wall to cut the Gator deficit to 6-2, but that’s as close as they would get.

In the victory, Regira went 2-3 with a walk and two RBIs, while Brock Hebert was 1-3 with a walk and an RBI.

“In the game the other night, we had base-runners in five of the seven innings, but we never got that big hit,” Keowen said. “Tonight, Brock Hebert had a huge two-outs hit earlier in the game, and Dominick Regira had one late. That’s the difference. When you put the ball in play with two outs and two strikes, you give yourself a chance.”

From the mound, Tanner Hebert pitched five and two-thirds innings, surrendering six hits and two runs. He struck out eight Gators.

The St. Amant bats struggled. Poirrier was the Gators’ best hitter, going 2-3 with a walk and a homer. LeBouef was 1-3 with an RBI.

The loss ensured that Catholic will win yet another outright District 5-5A championship.

“It’s a disappointing loss. We had a chance to split a district championship, so the guys are hurting,” Bravata said. “But failure is an opportunity to improve. We talked just now about how to handle these situations a little bit better, and I think we’ll be better for it.”