DHS exercises demons of past Blue Jay defeats
Joshua Rochelle pitching in Destrehanís victory of Jesuit. The Wildcats beat their opponent 6-3.
The Wildcats took the opportunity to write another chapter in their playoff saga with a 6-3 victory. The win, Destrehan's 20th in its last 23 games, put the team in the state tournament for the sixth time in the past eight years.
Prior to Monday's win, the Wildcats were 0-3 in the postseason against the Blue Jays since 2002, losing to Jesuit in the 2002 quarterfinals, the 2005 finals and the 2007 quarterfinals.
The difference Monday was the Wildcats' ability to get big hits with two outs as all six runs came with two outs and none on.
"We have been playing like this all season," Luquet said. "We've been great with two outs, and it always seems to be a different guy every day. Anybody in our lineup can step up at any time and give us a spark."
The defending 5A runners-up held the lead twice against the host Wildcats. Jesuit took a 2-0 lead in the second when Josh Faciane's two-strike double down the left field line drove home Joe Palmer and Briggs Barrios. Destrehan got out of the inning when senior second baseman Andrew Suffrin caught a Jesuit line drive and tossed it to junior shortstop Sam Carriere to double-up the Blue Jay runner.
The Wildcats tied the game with two runs in the third. Senior Shaine Babineaux started the rally with a two-out double, and Carriere tied the game with his fourth home run of the year. But the Blue Jays (19-12-1) regained the lead in the fourth on a Faciane sacrifice fly to right field.
The Wildcats threatened in the fourth as they loaded the bases against reliever and Jesuit ace Jordan Rittiner, who came into the game with a 6-3 record and a 1.49 ERA, before a strike out ended the inning although the Wildcats would get to Rittiner in a big way in the fifth.
Rittiner retired the first two batters before senior catcher Patrick Roth blasted a game-tying solo home run to open the flood gates. Junior Kurt McCune singled and advanced to second on a balk before senior Joshua Rochelle belted an RBI single. Rochelle stole second base and was driven home by Suffrin's double to left. Suffrin would score the inning's final run on junior Matt Smith's double to right field.
Senior Hunter Tyree (6-3) got the win going 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits. Rochelle relieved Hunter in the fifth, and McCune pitched two scoreless innings for the save.
Offensively, Destrehan belted 10 hits, lead by Suffrin with three and Babineaux with two. The Wildcats out-hit the Blue Jays, 10-6.
With the victory, Destrehan will take on co-district champion Dutchtown for the fifth time this season in the quarterfinals of the 5A state tournament Friday at 7:30 p.m. If the Wildcats defeat the Griffins for the second time this season, they will play in the semifinals at 2 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the C.E. Byrd/St Paul's contest.
"We're excited to be playing them for the fifth time," Luquet said about Dutchtown. "All of the ballgames have been close ones, and they were fun. You want to compete against the best in this game, and Dutchtown is one of the best. It'll be fun Friday."
The Wildcats (23-12-1) had to battle just for the right to host Monday's regional game. In bi-district action last Thursday, 26th-seeded John Ehret tested Destrehan before the Wildcats notched a 7-3 victory.
The Patriots lead for much of the game and took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth before McCune gave the Wildcats a needed spark.
After Roth opened the inning with a walk, McCune was down 0-2, but the righty fouled off pitch after pitch before connecting with a fastball he lifted over the left field fence. The shot gave the Wildcats their first lead, 4-3.
"It felt good especially because of the situation I was in when I hit it. Our team has a lot of players that step it up every day, and today was just my day. I was able to get that spark that we needed," he said.
"I was just trying to foul them off. I changed my swing a little just to keep it in play, but I was just thinking 'don't go down'."
The Wildcats added three runs in the sixth to set the final four-run margin. Babineaux led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Roth's sacrifice fly. McCune, who had five RBIs, blasted a Ruthian shot to center for the inning's second run, and Suffrin's RBI double provided the game's final run.
Luquet said his team's five-error performance was not a sign of things to come.
"We have been playing lights out for six weeks, and I hate to say that we were due for one but we were due for one," he said. "Ehret came out and had a great plan for us, and they executed it. If they made a couple more plays, they could have won it."
Rochelle (9-3) got the win going five innings, allowing no earned runs and four hits while striking out six.
Offensively, McCune, Suffrin (two doubles) and Babineaux (two singles) had seven of Destrehan's eight hits.
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As time ran down with under a minute left, the voices of the Destrehan fans rang into the night.