Facing elimination, Destrehan continued to battle a dominant Sulphur team inning after inning, and into extra innings on the road Saturday.
But it was the ninth inning that saw the Tors’ bats awaken for good, scorching the scoreboard for seven runs to end Destrehan’s season, 8-1, in the second round of the Division I non-select state baseball playoffs.
Sulphur won the first game between the teams 5-0 on Friday, leading ultimately to a sweep in the best of three series.
“We knew we would have trouble getting a whole lot of runs on the board (in the first game) with (LSU signee Jake Brown) on the mound. That’s their guy, a very good pitcher. The goal was to keep it close and hopefully get him out the game late. They came out swinging the bats really well and scored five over the first two innings … that’s a senior-laden team and they executed very well.”
John Carmichael took the loss on the mound in Saturday’s elimination game, his statline not reflective of the way he pitched. Carmichael allowed eight runs, just two of those earned, on nine hits and three walks while striking out three. He battled the Tors for 8.2 innings, holding a powerful offense to one run until the ninth inning.
Shane Lee, Jonah Haslauer and Carmichael each got hits for Destrehan, with Haslauer driving in the Wildcats’ lone run.
Dillion Bird swung the biggest bat for Sulphur (32-4) on the day, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs – all three of his hits were doubles. Luke Benoit went 1-for-5 with two RBIs and a run. Jackson Beddoe went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run.
Destrehan evaded a potential early deficit in the first inning after Brown led off the game with a triple. Carmichael and the DHS defense recorded three straight outs to retire the side and the threat.
But Sulphur indeed grabbed a lead when Cooper Devall’s RBI double made it 1-0 in the second inning.
That run may have felt like enough for a little while, given how Kohl Navarre was pitching on the hill for Sulphur. He struck out six consecutive batters over the second and third inning.
Destrehan (25-13) adjusted in the fourth inning to tie things up, however, when Haslauer singled home Brady Mire after Mire walked earlier in the inning.
A pitcher’s duel ensued over the next several innings between Carmichael and Navarre, who went eight two-hit innings and struck out 10.
But Bird led off the ninth inning with a double, then Gunner Gremillion singled. With one out, Beddoe singled home the go-ahead run, then an error plated another run. A Gage Trahan sacrifice fly made it 4-1 before a two-run single by Benoit all but officially ended the Wildcats’ season.
Chris Mire said Sulphur attacked the fastball all weekend and it made the difference.
“They definitely had a plan to be ready to hit fastball … it felt like every fastball we threw for two games, they got good swings on. Even Carmichael on Saturday, he had to throw a lot of cutters, a lot of offspeed stuff. When we went fastball, it seemed like every ball was in the gap or over our heads. Credit to them.”
Brown was the star of the day on Friday, earning the win after pitching 6.2 shutout innings, striking out 10 and allowing four hits.
Chris Mire said this wasn’t the result the team wanted to finish the season with given that a major goal was to take the next step and make a playoff run. But Destrehan finished with 25 wins against a tough schedule and played some of the best baseball in the state over the second half of its season.
“I’m proud of this group. Everyone was tough and never stopped competing. They never back down,” Mire said. “They kept finding ways to win.”
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