Pios upend Gents in summer league tilt
CROWLEY – It’s not always the top of the lineup that does the damage.
The Notre Dame Pioneers found that out Monday, when the last three hitters in their order combined for five hits and four runs to spark a 6-1 victory over cross-town rival Crowley High in a summer league contest at Miller Stadium.
Kyle Habetz and Taylor Faulk each had two hits and Jacob Mooney had one for the Pios hitting in the final three slots.
It was just what the Pios needed.
“It’s always a good thing when you can get production out of the bottom of your lineup,” said Notre Dame coach Steve Soper. “For the most part, and we even hit 11 batters, we’ve done a pretty good job of putting the ball in play and really swinging the bats.
“It’s great when we can count on nine hits. I’d like to be a little more balanced all the way through, but we will take it where ever we can get it from.”
The Gents, on the other hand, struggled to find any kind of consistency on offense.
They logged just three hits on the evening and had just one single, an infield hit by Mackay Mouton, in the first five innings.
“At times, we had runners on, but we just couldn’t come up with a timely hit,” said CHS coach Chad Cradeur. “We just didn’t put any pressure on them.
“Notre Dame is a team that is very fundamentally sound and you have to put pressure on them. If we’re constantly popping up and hitting routine ground balls, that’s not going to cut it against a team that doesn’t really make many mistakes.”
Early on, it was a pitching dual between Notre Dame’s Wyatt Sullivan and Crowley High’s Mouton. Neither hurler surrendered a hit, much less a run in the first two frames.
All that changed in the third inning.
The Pios struck first for three runs off Mouton on four hits.
Habetz and Faulk got the Pios going with back-to-back singles before leadoff man Jacques Thibodeaux laced an RBI single to right center field. Then with two outs, Gavin Bourgeois drilled a double down the left field line to drive in two more runs, giving Notre Dame a 3-0 advantage.
“We did a really good job there as far as making an adjustment,” said Soper of his offense. “Especially during the summer, it’s kind of hard to get out to a really fast start with the offense, but I thought we did a good job of making an adjustment.
“When we can get the bottom of our order to really come through, when it turns over to the top, we’ve got guys on. Traditionally, your stronger hitters are in the top of the lineup so if we can get that lineup to turnover with guys on base, we’re going to be pretty successful.”
The bottom of the lineup came through again in the fifth inning.
Mooney started the frame with a single to right center field and Habetz followed with a single to left that chased Mouton from the mound with no outs.
Faulk then delivered an RBI-single down the left field line off CHS reliever Ben Broussard for the first run of the inning.
A double play helped the Gents minimize the damage, but the Pios did manage one more run in the inning on an RBI single by Alex Rozas.
The Pios added an insurance run in the sixth when Bourgeois reached base on an error and scored on a double to right center field by Sam Veillon.
The Gents plated their lone run in the bottom of the fourth inning when Mouton reached base on an infield single. He then stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a squeeze bunt by Pate Broussard.
The Gents, however, did have countless scoring opportunities but they were unable to catch a break: they had three runners thrown out on steal attempts, one runner picked off and had two runners gunned down at the plate attempting to score.
“We didn’t play smart baseball today,” said Cradeur. “We weren’t very smart running the bases. We were aggressive, we just didn’t make good decisions. It was just bad baseball on the bases.”
Crowley had runners at the corners in the second inning with one out when Zach Breaux hit a grounder back to the mound. Jon Riley Mouton, who reached base on a walk to start the frame, broke from third on the throw to first base and was called out on a close plate at the plate.
In the third inning, the Gents drew a pair of walks, but the Pios got out of the potential jam with a double play and Jeff Michael Daigle’s second throw out of the game on a steal attempt.
Then in the fourth inning, following his successful squeeze bunt, Broussard got caught in a rundown at first base. The Pios were able to tag him out for the second out of the frame and then nail Austin Duhon at the plate attempting to score for an unconventional double play to end the inning.
“We did a good job of throwing guys out with Jeff behind the plate and our first and third defense wasn’t bad as far as getting that out and then doubling them up at the plate,” said Soper.
The Gents mounted one final threat in the sixth inning when they loaded the bases courtesy of back-to-back hits by Luke Ancelet and Alex Ashby and an error off the bat of Mackay Mouton.
But the big hit eluded the Gents once again as Caleb Istre popped out to pitcher Alex Rozas in foul territory to end the inning.
Mackay Mouton suffered the loss for the Gents after surrendering five runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out one in four innings. Ben Broussard worked the final three frames, allowing one unearned run on three hits and one walk while striking out one.
“We started the game real well,” said Cradeur. “We came out and we pitched with intensity and hit our spots. But as the game went on, we started to try and throw it by people and we started throwing instead of pitching. We just really didn’t hit our spots well later in the game and they made us pay for it.”
Sullivan picked up the victory for the Pios. He allowed one run on one hit and six walks while striking out two in four innings. Rozas pitched the final three frames and allowed two hits and one walk.
“Wyatt struggled to find the zone a little bit but the biggest thing about pitching is winning without your stuff,” said Soper. “If you can find a way to get through it without your best stuff, you are going to be successful and Wyatt did a really good job of that. He didn’t throw his best game but he was able to get what he could and battle through it.”
Offensively, Habetz and Faulk paced the Pios with two hits each while Bourgeois and Veillon each had a double. Mooney, Rozas and Thibodeaux each had one hit.
The Gents got singles from Ancelet, Ashby and Mackay Mouton and an RBI from Pate Broussard.
The Gents return to action today when they travel to Lake Arthur for a 6 p.m. contest.
The Pios will play host to Sacred Heart of Ville Plate Thursday in a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m.