Cougars rally past Pioneers

LAFAYETTE – Avoiding the big inning was something Notre Dame’s Pioneers had done successfully for four games heading into their Monday showdown with St. Thomas More.

Unfortunately for the Pios, that streak didn’t continue.

Class 5A’s 13th-ranked Cougars rallied for five runs in the third inning and then scored four more in the bottom of the seventh to slip away with a 9-8 victory over the Pios at ULL’s Tigue Moore Field.

“Everyone will talk about the last inning, but it was the inning where we gave up five runs on just one hit that really did us in,” said Notre Dame coach Timmy Robichaux, whose squad fell to 3-2 with the loss. “We just have to be able to close games out and we weren’t able to do that tonight.”

Notre Dame cruised through the first two and a half innings, taking a 4-0 advantage into the bottom of the third.

Pete Petitjean drove in one run in the first inning and Mitch Corzine scored on a fielder’s choice to put the Pios up 2-0.

Starting pitcher Austin Robichaux helped his own cause in the third inning, doubling in two runs on a shot down the left field line.

Robichaux also held STM in check at the plate for the first two frames by not giving up a single hit.

However, Robichaux ran into trouble in the bottom of the third.

Tucker Billeaud flew out to left to start the inning but Robichaux then hit the next two batters. An error at shortstop followed and the flood gates opened. One run scored on a passed ball and two more scored on a single by Michael Darnell.

When it was all said and done, STM took its first lead of the game (5-4) courtesy of just one hit.

“We just gave them too much that one inning,” said Robichaux of the third inning. “We threw the ball away a few times on pickoff attempts and then were ahead of hitters and we elevate up and in and we hit them. Other than that one inning, Austin threw well. We just have to be able to throw in on batters and not hit them.”

Robichaux regrouped in the fourth inning, allowing just one runner on a single to right.

Notre Dame responded in the fifth when Bryant Gilbert doubled to right center field and scored on a passed ball to tie the game at 5-5.

Gilbert took over for Robichaux in the bottom of the fifth and held the Cougars scoreless for two innings.

Gilbert also had a run scoring single in the top of the sixth that capped a three-run inning, giving the Pios an 8-5 advantage.

STM would not be denied, though.

Brody Colvin started the Cougars’ rally in the seventh with a leadoff triple and he scored on a ground out by Matt Degraauu. Darnell followed with a single and Tucker Nimms doubled before each scored on a triple to center by Tyler Robideaux to tie the game at 8-8.

Two intentional walks to load the bases almost paid off when Austin Aucoin grounded to shortstop for a possible double play. However, the relay throw from second base to first was not in time as the winning run crossed the plate.

“I think if Austin could have given us one more inning, Bryant would have had a little better success,” said Robichaux.

STM had just two hits in the first five innings before reeling off six in the final two frames.

Darnell and Robideaux each had two hits and two RBI in the victory.

Gilbert led the Pios’ 8-hit attack with a 2-for-4 performance that included a double and a RBI. Matt Savoie also had two hits and Robichaux doubled and drove in two runs.

Pete Petitjean, Luke Bourgeois and Blaine Richard each had a single in the losing effort.

“I think right now we are ahead of where we were at the end of last year,” said Robichaux. “We’re pitching well, playing good defense and we’re starting to hit the ball well. That’s going to be the key for us, being able to put the ball in play. Overall, I’m pleased at where we are at.”

Notre Dame hits another tough stretch at the end of the week when they participate in the Sam Houston Tournament. The Pios will take on St. Louis Thursday at Iowa High School and then take on Sam Houston Friday at Sam Houston. Both of those games are slated for 5:25 p.m.

The Pios close out the tournament Saturday at Sam Houston when they take on Sulphur and Bunkie in a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m.

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