St. Thomas More upends Rayne in quarterfinals
Rayne High’s Grant Abshire takes a throw at third base to tag out St. Thomas More’s Clay Harst Monday during the Wolves’ 10-1 loss to the Cougars in a Class 4A quarterfinal contest at Brother Ephrem Hebert Field in Lafayette.
LAFAYETTE – There is a good reason Tony Robichaux’s nationally-ranked University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns signed St. Thomas More pitcher Wyatt Marks this spring.
That was evident Monday when the STM senior scattered six hits and struck out 12 in leading the top-seeded Cougars to a 10-1 victory over the Rayne Wolves in Class 4A quarterfinal-round action.
He walked just one.
“They (Cougars) have a really good team,” said Rayne coach Jason Bonin. “And you definitely can’t spot them more than three runs because he (Marks) is such a good pitcher. He has good command of his pitches and I knew he was going to give us some trouble.”
The victory sends St. Thomas More to the Class 4A semifinals on Thursday against St. Michael at McMurry Park in Sulphur.
Rayne finished the season with an impressive 25-6 record.
“We made it a little easier on him (Marks) by giving up some free bases without getting an out,” said Bonin. “For them having runners in scoring position with nobody out makes it really tough to defend.”
For the game, the Wolves committed four errors that led to four unearned runs. They also issued 12 free passes (eight walks, four hit batters), enabling the Cougars to pounce.
Although Marks registered a number of strikeouts, Bonin was pleased with his team’s offense. The Wolves had a number of quality plate appearances where they took the STM senior standout into deep counts and made him throw a number of pitches.
“I think our batters did a good job of battling up there and fighting and giving him a little trouble,” said Bonin. “It wasn’t easy for him. We had six hits so we didn’t necessarily make it easy.”
The Cougars got on the board in the second inning courtesy of an error, a walk and one hit.
Mason Templet led off the frame with a grounder to shortstop and reached base on an errant throw. He then stole second base and he eventually scored on a two-out single by Brandon Romero.
The Wolves avoided any further damage when left fielder Brice Meche fired the ball back in from the outfield on Romero’s hit and nailed Christian Leonard, who had walked, at third base for the final out of the inning.
The Cougars had a chance to break the game open in the third inning when Clay Harst drew a leadoff walk and Brennan Breaux doubled. Bonin elected to intentionally walk Chase Vallot to load the bases with no outs and it paid dividends as STM was only able to push one run across on a Mason Templet sacrifice fly.
“It could have been ugly early,” said Bonin of the third inning. “But that’s a credit to our pitching for continuing to battle up there and throwing some really tough pitches to get out of that inning.”
The following inning, however, the Wolves weren’t as fortunate.
The Cougars loaded the bases again on a leadoff error, a hit batsman and a bunt single. Harst was then hit by a pitch to plate the first run of the frame and Vallot drew a one-out walk to bring home another run.
Templet then drilled a two-out, two-run single to center field to chase RHS starter Hunter Keely from the mound. Tyler LeJeune took over for Keely and coaxed the first batter he faced into a fly ball to end the inning.
The Wolves finally got on the board in the sixth inning when Meche doubled down the left field line and eventually scored on a groundout to shortstop by Ty Delahoussaye.
The Cougars responded with four more runs in the bottom of the frame on three hits, two hit batsman and one intentional walk.
The Wolves logged three hits in the top of the seventh, but they were unable to push across a run. Grant Abshire beat out a grounder to shortstop for the first hit of the frame and Gannon Quebodeaux and Grant Menard each singled to center field.
The loss for the Wolves was disappointing, but Bonin said it takes nothing away from the exceptional season his team had.
“This is a big building block for us and it’s huge for our program because none of these kids have experienced anything like this,” said Bonin of reaching the quarterfinal round. “We are losing five seniors, but we have about 10 returning juniors and we’re looking forward to the future.
“They needed this. They needed to be in this quarterfinal setting and get a taste of what it’s like and what it takes. This atmosphere today was a lot like a state championship atmosphere so if we’re ever going to be in there, this is the kind of setting that we need to learn how to play in.”