Gator batters stymied in 8-1 loss to Benton
St. Amant opened Thursday's South Louisiana Shootout tournament with an offensive explosion that yielded 13 runs. Things were quite different Friday evening.
The Gators were completely shut down by Benton pitcher Aaron Shepard, and a big fourth-inning home run by Cameron Horton opened the flood gates for an easy 8-1 Tiger victory.
Pitcher Blayne Enlow started the game for St. Amant, but he quickly fell into a hole after a crucial first-inning Gator error.
Wade Grubbs led the game off with an infield single on a great bunt down the leftfield line. Grubbs stole second and when he stole third, an errant throw allowed him to turn the corner and come home for a 1-0 Tiger lead.
Enlow responded well. He forced Benton to go three up and three down in the next two innings as he struck out four Tiger batters. Unfortunately for St. Amant, they couldn't take advantage because Shepard sat their hitters down just as quickly.
With Benton still clinging to a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, Tanner Craft drew a leadoff walk. Horton then blasted a two-run homer over the rightfield wall to extend the Tiger lead to 3-0.
Enlow showed great composure in being able to escape without giving up anymore runs. He got out of the inning with another strikeout.
St. Amant didn't get their first hit of the game until the bottom of the fourth when Adam Sevario led off with a single, but the Gators couldn't take advantage.
In the fifth, Zachary Lipoma supplied their second single, but Benton was able to shut the door with a great double-play turned by Jaret Gill.
Things began to fall apart for the Gators in the sixth.
Craft went down on strikes, but the ball got past St. Amant catcher Brock Gonzales--allowing Craft to go safely to first base.
Horton followed it up with a double, and Shepard brought both runners home with a double down the leftfield line.
The hit gave Benton a commanding 5-0 lead, and it ended Enlow's day. Ethan Sheets then came in to pitch.
The Gators finally put a score on the board in the bottom of the sixth.
Sevario came through with a two-outs double. A throwing error allowed him to eventually come home to trim the deficit to 5-1, but that's as close as St. Amant would get to the Tigers.
Benton had another big inning in the seventh.
Jason Shear led the inning off with a double off the leftfield wall, and Grubbs reached base with another bunt.
Craft then brought both runners home with a double to right-center.
For the third time in the game, a batter went down on strikes but was able to reach first due to a passed ball. This time, it allowed Craft to come home and stretch the Tiger lead out to a dominant 8-1 margin.
Shepard was then able to close things out in style as he struck out two Gators in the bottom of the seventh to take the victory.
Shepard was brilliant on the mound--pitching a complete game. In the process, he only gave up four hits, no earned runs and he struck out six St. Amant batters.
From the plate, Horton did the most damage for Benton as he went 2-4 with a homer and two RBIs. Grubbs also went 2-4.
Enlow pitched five innings for the Gators. He actually struck out nine Tiger batters and only gave up four hits, but the two-run homer by Horton in the fourth and two-RBI double by Shepard in the sixth were back-breakers for the Gators.
Only two Gators were able to collect St. Amant's four total hits. Sevario and Lipoma each went 2-3.
St. Amant rebounded on Saturday by beating Ponchatoula, 3-1, to finish the tournament with a 2-1 record.