Benton slides by EA at S. Louisiana Shootout

Kyle Riviere
A Benton runner slides to first safely as East Ascension's Tristan Babin tries to make the tag. Photo by DKMoon Photography

The Benton Tigers might be from Bossier, but they ruled Ascension on Friday night.

After thrashing hosting St. Amant in the day's opening game of the South Louisiana Shootout tournament, they capitalized on East Ascension's mistakes and scored three first-inning runs to beat the Spartans, 5-3.

"We had three walks in that first inning and when we did throw strikes, they hit it. You can't start slow in this game--especially against a team like Benton," first-year East Ascension head coach Britt Waguespack said. "I find we started slow last night, and we started slow tonight. We competed well at the end of each game, but we were too late in both of them."

The Spartans came into the game still nursing from a loss to Notre Dame the previous day. After a shaky start by Tristan Babin on the mound and their inability to drive in runs, Benton was able to comfortably take care of business.

East Ascension started the game off with a Justin Hogan single. Babin--a Nicholls State signee--and Cole Holley both walked to load the bases. However, all three Spartans were left stranded.

Benton made them pay in the bottom of the first inning.

Babin walked Tanner Craft, and Cameron Horton followed it up with a single. Jaret Gill didn't waste any time driving both men in with a base knock of his own.

Babin then walked Bronson Woodward and after a pitch got past catcher Austin McInnis, Gill came home to give Benton a commanding 3-0 lead.

The Tigers added another run in the second.

Babin walked three straight batters to load the bases. That forced Waguespack to make a change and bring in Brandt Fairchild.

But with the bases already full, an infield single by Horton allowed a runner to come home and extend the Benton advantage to 4-0.

The Tigers got another run in the fourth when Jason Shear reached base on a fielding error. Horton then brought him home with an RBI single to extend the lead to a commanding 5-0.

The East Ascension bats finally woke up in the top of the fifth.

Jake Thomas got on leadoff after a Benton fielding error. Kade Waguespack followed it up with a double to the wall at left-center.

A throwing error to second to try to pick off Waguespack allowed Thomas to come home. However, the score remained 5-1 after the Spartans failed to bring Waguespack home.

East Ascension continued to leave armies on base in the sixth. McInnis collected a two-outs walk, and Charles Stevens singled, but no one could bring either player home.

The Spartans made their final charge in the seventh.

Ben Thompson led off with a double against the wall at left-center, but he eventually got picked off at second.

Kade Waguespack collected another double and then got to third after a bad throw to second. He eventually scored on a wild pitch.

The Spartans stayed alive with a walk, and Babin reached base on a fielding error. A run then scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 5-3.

But with just one more out left to work with, Holley went down on strikes--leaving yet another runner on base.

"That's normally how it goes. When you leave base-runners in scoring position and you don't get a hit, you're gonna lose," Coach Waguespack said. "You have to drive in runs at that time. I thought we had two opportunities to drive in some runs with the heart of our order up, and we just couldn't get it done."

Horton made it look easy against Spartan pitching as he went 3-4 with two RBIs. Gill went 2-3 with a run batted in.

The only consistent hitter for East Ascension was Kade Waguespack. He went 3-4 with two doubles.

The loss continued a tough stretch for the Spartans where they lost six of their last eight games.

"We have to keep playing because it doesn't get any easier and the biggest thing we have to do is minimize our mistakes. We had four or five mistakes in there that cost us the ballgame," Coach Waguespack said. "I'd like to say that they're (Benton) the better team--they are a very good team--but it's hard to say they're that much better because we didn't take care of some little things that we need to clean up."