Gators fall short in state title game

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
The Gators celebrate after a Lee Amedee home run during St. Amant’s 9-6 championship loss to West Monroe.

In Thursday’s matchup against Sulphur High, the Gators fought back from a six-run deficit to earn their first semifinal victory in 18 years.

Unfortunately for St. Amant, the tables were turned two days later.

Playing in the Class 5A title game on Saturday night, the Gators surged to a 6-0 lead in the first inning. 

But West Monroe put together a furious rally that included a grand slam in the third and a three-RBI triple in the sixth. It all contributed to nine unanswered runs in a 9-6 victory for the Rebels.

The loss ended a memorable playoff journey by the Gators. During that run, St. Amant upset top-seeded Barbe in the quarterfinals and put together the big comeback win over No. 4 Sulphur in the semifinals.

“That was a special run we had. It just wasn’t meant to be for us tonight,” Gator head coach Brandon Bravata said. “It’ll be something they look back on for a long time. I feel like we put St. Amant back on the map. The guys are going to look back and be very appreciative of all of their hard work.”

Fresh off of scoring 10 runs in the semifinals, the Gator offense remained white-hot. They torched West Monroe pitching in the first inning.

Lee Amedee led the game off with a home run over the right-field wall.

Ryder Molea and Brayden Kuriger then walked. Molea scored on a double by Cole Poirrier. 

The bases were loaded after Landon Stewart walked. Connor Molaison then drove home two runs with a single.

The first-inning onslaught finally ended after Stewart scored on a wild pitch and another run was driven home with a single by Amedee.

West Monroe had to make two pitching changes during the inning. The second pitcher the Rebels brought in was Brennan Eager, and the Gators had no answers for him.

After collecting four hits in the first inning, Eager limited St. Amant to just three for the rest of the game.

 “Man, he was a competitor. He had no fear up there, and you could tell. He was in complete control, and we didn’t make adjustments to him,” Bravata said.

After getting through the first two innings unscathed, St. Amant pitcher Jacob Mayers ran into trouble in the third. The Rebels loaded the bases on him.

Poirrier came in, in relief and got off to a rough start. He walked in a run, and then Caleb Ross blasted a grand slam to cut the St. Amant lead to 6-5.

That advantage carried over to the bottom of the sixth. That’s when it fell apart for the Gators.

The Rebels loaded the bases, and Ole Miss commit Hayden Federico cleared them with a triple. He later came home following a West Monroe base hit, which gave them a 9-6 lead.

“We just had too many walks, and they were able to get some momentum,” Bravata said. “But credit to them, they can hit. Once the momentum switched, we had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be good.”

In the seventh, St. Amant went down in order, assuring the state title for West Monroe.

In defeat, Amedee went 3-4 with a homer and two RBIs. Poirrier was also 3-4, and he drove in a run.

Molaison was 1-3 with two RBIs, and Layne Swanson went 2-2 with a walk.

St. Amant finished the season with a record of 34-7. The Gators reached the state tournament for the first time since 2014, and they reached their first state title game since 2004.

“Class 5A baseball is just incredible. Every time you win some, there’s another giant standing right there, looking to take you down,” Bravata said. “So, it was really an amazing run for us. They believed in everything we tried to do. It’s a very special group of kids.”