Wolves slide by Tioga 7-6 for regional win
REGIONAL WIN CELEBRATION - Complete with the final score lit in lights, Rayne High celebrates a 7-6 come from behind 7-6 win over Tioga Tuesday evening, advancing the Wolves to the quarterfinals where they will meet St. Thomas More in Lafayette. (Acadian-Tribune Photo by Lisa Soileaux)
PICKS UP SAVE - Freshman pitcher Jaylen Reed threw a save Tuesday during Rayne High's 7-6 come from behind win over Tioga Tuesday evening, advancing the Wolves to the quarterfinals where they will meet St. Thomas More in Lafayette. (Acadian-Tribune Photo by Lisa Soileaux)
Blase Meche tags out a Tioga baserunner Tuesday when the Wolves scored a 7-6 come from behind win over the Indians, advancing the Wolves to the state quarterfinals where they will meet St. Thomas More in Lafayette. (Acadian-Tribune Photo by Lisa Soileaux)
By Lisa Soileaux
RAYNE - Entering Tuesday’s regional match-up against Tioga, the Rayne Wolves anticipated a close, tough game. Little did they know how close and tough the Indians would make it for the Wolves to move on to the state quarterfinals.
What looked like the beginning of a blow-out by Tioga as the Indians took a demanding 6-0 lead through five innings of play and a solid pitching performance by Indian hurler Adam Nelson, little did the Indians know the Wolves were about to unleash a barrage of hits of their own.
“We actually went three innings before going through our line-up,” stated Rayne head coach Jason Bonin of Tuesday’s barn-burner. “He (Nelson) had an odd-looking delivery and it took our guys a couple times seeing it before adjusting.”
Bonin continued, “We made the adjustments, got a little confidence, and started hitting the ball late, and we just jumped on it when we needed to.”
Then, with the fresh pitching arm of freshman hurler Jaylen Reed (6 K’s for the save) shutting down Tioga’s offense, the Rayne bats began to hit in the bottom of the sixth.
Each reaching on singles, Grant Menard was waiting on third and Brice Meche sat on second when TJ Bearb tripled over centerfielder to tighten the score at 6-2, giving the Wolves some hope.
An RBI single by Rayne’s Hunter Keely brought in Bearb, who was then advance to third on a single by Grant Abshire, leaving runners on the corners. Tyler LeJeune offered a sacrifice bunt that scored Keely for a 6-4 ballgame. Blase Meche slapped in an RBI single scoring Abshire, leaving the Wolves slightly trailing 6-5 heading into the final inning.
Picking up speed and placement, Reed found his grove in the top of the final inning, shutting down all three batters with three strikeouts, setting up the top of Rayne’s lineup right when they needed it.
Once again, Menard was first up and reached first, this time running out a perfectly placed bunt. Brice Meche placed a bunt towards first and not only made it to first safely, but advance Menard to second. On a missed bunt and overthrown ball towards second, Rayne runners were now in scoring position at second and third. Bearb was put on first with an intentional walk, loading up the bases for the Wolves.
In almost a replay of their bi-district win over Pearl River, the Wolves needed only a run to tie things up and a solid hit to win the ballgame. And again, that hit came from Keely who slapped a double over the centerfielder, scoring both Menard and Meche for the 7-6 win.
“What can you say about a win like this,” commented Bonin on the slim win. “Sure, having the heart of our lineup at the plate when we needed it and Hunter (Keely) hitting another game-winning hit, its just amazing,” he said with a glazed look still on his face in awe of the win.
“You know there’s a reason we call Grant (Menard) Magic,” noted Bonin of the late-game rally. “Almost every time he gets a hit and gets thing going, our other guys continue to hit and we rally ahead for a win. And thankfully, it happened again tonight.”
Bonin added, “I’m really proud of everyone here tonight, from the bottom to the top, from the managers to the players and our coaches -- everyone did their job and it paid off. I’m just proud of everyone giving their best and never giving up.”
With the win, Rayne now advances to the quarterfinals at St. Thomas More of Lafayette. It has been seven years since the Wolves have reached the state quarterfinals, a few moons ago when Bonin was a little younger and assistant coach at Rayne High. And after Tuesday’s nail-bitter, certainly a few grey hairs ago.