Still grinding

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Justin Duhon and St. Amant were able to grind their way to a 6-5 win over East Ascension to remain at the top of the district. Photo by Dewey Keller.

St. Amant's comeback win over rival East Ascension on Thursday night showed exactly why their head coach has nicknamed them "Grinders."

They might be down, they might be struggling, their efforts might not look pretty, but they just continue to find ways to grind out victories.

After turning a one-run sixth-inning deficit into a win, the home-standing Gators earned their 14th victory in their previous 15 games and remained at the top of the district.

"Honestly, we've been doing it all year," St. Amant head coach Troy Templet said. "I gave these kids the nickname "Grinders" about three weeks ago. They just keep grinding it out, playing seven innings. If we're behind, we grind and get ahead. These kids are amazing. They never give up, and they just keep battling and grinding it out."

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for East Ascension. The 6-5 loss to the Gators was their fourth in a row after winning 11 of 12 games prior to the losing streak.

"Once again, we're making untraditional errors," Spartan head coach Mike Toups said. "You expect ground-ball errors, but we made a few errors tonight--none of them on ground balls. We pitched well enough to win. We didn't swing it real well, but their pitchers had a lot to do with that; (Skylar) Enlow was great, and they're a good team."

Skylar Enlow certainly was great for the Gators. Behind his strong five innings of work, St. Amant was able to jump out to a 4-1 lead.

However, he did run into some trouble in the second.

Tristan Babin led off the inning for East Ascension with a walk, and Jake Schexnaydre followed it up with a double against the centerfield wall.

Enlow then walked two straight batters to allow Babin to come home and give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.

The Gators answered right back at the bottom of the inning as Justin Duhon led off with a double against the leftfield wall. He then reached third on an Austin Millet wild pitch.

Matthew Delaune then walked, and Brock Bowen reached base on a fielder's choice.

Owen Richard reached base on an errant throw to first--which also allowed the tying run to come home.

The Gators broke the tie the next inning as Blaine Shexnayder got on base with a blooper into leftfield, and Brennan Grant followed with a double down the leftfield line.

Reese LeBlanc followed that up with an RBI double down the leftfield line and after a passed ball to the catcher, LeBlanc came home to give St. Amant a 3-1 lead.

The next inning, Richard led off with a single but an error in the outfield allowed him to get all the way to third. Grant Durbin then sent him home with a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 4-1.

It looked like St. Amant was ready to cruise to another victory but in the sixth, East Ascension made one final push.

After giving up a walk and another hit to Jake Schexnaydre, Enlow's night came to an end--giving way to reliever Connor Millet.

That's when the Spartan rally began.

Layne Trahan reached base on a fielder's choice, and Baron LeBlanc was hit by a pitch to walk in a run.

Kade Waguespack then delivered a sacrifice fly, and Luke Lambert chalked up an infield single to load the bases.

That's when Brandon Ansardi came through with a huge two-RBI single that allowed East Ascension to regain the lead at 5-4.

St. Amant wasn't rattled. They answered right back at the bottom of the inning.

Richard led the inning off with a single, and Mitchell Mayard was hit by a pitch.

Blaine Schexnayder then reached base on a fielder's choice--which also allowed the tying run to come home.

Grant was walked to load the bases, and Duhon walked to give the Gators the lead back at 6-5.

And in the seventh, Tyler Dixon came in to close for St. Amant. After Trahan popped out in the outfield, the Gators were able to earn the 6-5 victory.

Enlow set the tone for St. Amant. In five and a quarter innings of work, he struck out seven and only gave up two hits.

"We've been pitching well, we've been playing good defense; we just have to score enough runs," Templet said. "That's our mentality. That's our personality and what we've become. We just have to live with it, play seven innings and find ways to win."

St. Amant certainly did enough from the plate. Duhon went 2-2 with an RBI and two walks, Richard went 2-3 and Grant went 1-2 with two walks.

East Ascension had their struggles. Jake Schexnaydre was the only Spartan with multiple hits as he went 2-2 with two walks. His two hits were the only hits allowed by Enlow.

The loss was the fourth straight for East Ascension, but Toups knows his team can't afford to feel sorry for themselves.

"We've lost four straight--the last two to the Gators." Toups said. "It happened; it's over now. We lost four; now we have to look to Catholic."

The Gators are set to clash with Dutchtown this week for the district title.

"I like the way we're playing; no doubt about it, but I think we can play better. I really do," Templet said. "We just have to keep working and not get complacent and try to keep getting better. We'll try to work on our games next week and get us ready."