Pios host Brusly for spot in state tourney

CROWLEY –  The Notre Dame Pioneers have come a long way since the start of the 2013 baseball season.

How far?

Consider this: At one point early in the season, the Pios stood at a dismal 5-11 and   their prowess seemed a thing of the past.

Fast forward to today and the Pios are 21-12, winners of 15 of their last 16 games and they are one victory away from another berth in the Class 3A State Tournament.

And, oh, yes, the No. 3 seed in 3A.

Not bad for a team some had given up for dead.

And the story is still ongoing.

In fact, the Pios can  add another chapter to their amazing comeback story Monday. 

Standing in their way is No. 11 seed Brusly, who the Pios will host at 6 p.m. in a quarterfinal contest at Miller Stadium.

“I think this game is going to be a good challenge for us,” said Notre Dame coach Timmy Robichaux, whose squad knocked off Berwick, 17-4, in the second round on Wednesday. “Anytime you get this deep in the playoffs, the step before the tournament, anybody you play is going to be good and they’re going to play hard.

“But this past game against Berwick was really encouraging. If we can get the offense going and get good pitching, I like our chances where we are.”

Brusly enters the contest with an impressive 25-7 record, which includes a 16-5 upset of No. 6 Buckeye in the regional round.

The Panthers have scored 26 runs in their first two playoff games and, defensively, have given up just six runs.

Notre Dame has also been impressive with a 10-0 victory over Port Barre in the postseason opener prior to Thursday’s thrashing of Berwick.

“I think we are pretty evenly matched,” said Robichaux. “I think it is all going to be won and lost on the mound. Whoever comes out and pitches really well and gives their team a chance to let their hitters hit enough in the game is going to be the team that wins the game.”

As of Saturday, Robichaux was unsure who he will be sending to the mound on Monday, but both Gavin Bouregois and Alex Holston have had ample rest leading up to the contest.

One thing Robichaux is sure of, however, is that his pitchers must do a better job of pounding the strike zone this week. Both Holston and Bourgeois pitched against Berwick and the duo combined to issue nine walks.

“We try to really preach to them first-pitch strikes and not giving them anything for free,” said Robichaux. “We have to make them earn everything they get, on the pitching side and the defensive side.

“But both Alex and Gavin were able to get up on the mound against Berwick so I think they will be a little bit sharper this go around.”

A little history

The last two times Notre Dame and Brusly have squared off on the diamond, the Pios had their way with the Panthers.

The first meeting occurred in 2010 when the Pios knocked off Brusly, 10-2, in the Class 3A title game in Ruston. Last year, the two teams met again  - in the St. Louis Catholic Tournament in Lake Charles. It was a different year, but basically the same result as the Pios’ rolled to a 16-3 victory.

Unfortunately, neither team made it past the second round of the playoffs last season and neither has been able to make it back to the state tournament since their 2010 showdown.

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