For Destrehan’s players, coaches and fans, it may have felt like an eternity to taste playoff victory again after heartbreaking opening round losses at home in 2017 and 2018.
But that wait is over, and then some. In 2019, the Wildcats have reeled off three playoff wins in a row—and they’re headed to the state quarterfinals.
No. 10 Destrehan earned a two games to none sweep in its second round series against No. 26 St. Amant, clinching a quarterfinal berth officially Saturday on the back of a 1-0 victory in game two.
“This is amazing,” said Dustin Weber, who made a stellar defensive play in the fourth inning that proved vital in the win. “Especially as a senior … I’m so happy we’re on to the third round. There are a whole bunch of unselfish people on this team, and us playing together like we do is what’s helped us come out with these close wins.”
DHS (24-9) defeated St. Amant 6-1 in game one of the series on Friday. It advances to face the winner of No. 2 Sam Houston and No. 15 Denham Springs. That series is likely to start next Friday, Destrehan coach Chris Mire said, and it will be another best two-of-three format. The Wildcats will be on the road against either opponent.
Mire said it was fitting this group would be the program’s first to win a best-of-three series in the playoffs.
“This is a group of guys who don’t care about who gets the credit. They just want to play for one another. Someone told me a few months ago, ‘Coach, you guys lost a lot of talent, but this is the team that’ll break through because they care about each other and love each other. Sure enough … they lay it on the line every day.”
Four Destrehan pitchers combined for a complete game shutout. Dickie Gibbs (3.1 innings, one hit), Ty Boyne (one inning, one hit), Nathan Rhodes (1.1 innings, one hit) and Avery Schexnaydre (1.1 innings, no hits) gave up just three hits combined, striking out three and walking four.
They outdueled Teddy Webb, who went the complete game and allowed one unearned run on four hits, striking out one and walking two. Webb has been a nemesis for Destrehan, pitching a gem in last season’s playoffs to help lift the Gators to a first round win at DHS. In three games against Webb, Destrehan had scored one run—it came Saturday, exactly when the Wildcats needed it.
“He’s a great player and we knew we’d be fighting for everything,” Mire said. “He gave us fits last year. He sent us home. And yesterday, we talked about it … baseball, sometimes, it’s just meant to be like this. We’re supposed to play against him again to redeem ourselves.”
His corps of arms made it possible. After besting Ouachita in 11 innings in round one on Tuesday, Mire and his staff had to quickly turn their attention to forming a plan for the upcoming Friday/Saturday series, after having to use its top two starters and closer to secure the win.
“It’s a tricky spot to be in, because then today you know you could need to play a game three,” Mire said.
“Luckily, we’ve been developing these guys throughout the year because of the injuries we’ve had early on. These guys have helped us win games. So for us, it wasn’t a matter of trusting them in this spot, but of using them the right way, putting them in situations they could be successful until we could get our closer (Avery Schexnaydre) in the game.
The Wildcats scored the game-winning run with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, with Avery Schexnaydre hitting a ball to the outfield and reaching on an error, bringing Josh Vicknair home to score. Destrehan set up the score via Cade Tramuta’s lead-off single, then Dustin Weber and Riley Cardinal advancing him to third via a bunt and ground ball, respectively.
The play of the day, however, came on the defensive side for Destrehan. In the bottom of the fourth inning,
St. Amant was threatening with two runners on and two outs. Dustin Weber charged at a line drive hit by Cade LeBoeuf and made a highlight catch, then immediately threw to second base where Ahman Morris tagged Slade Zeppuhar out for a double play.
“I saw it kinda dropping in and that they’d have runners on the move, so I had to come up with it,” Weber said. “It created a whole bunch of momentum. We came back out, got a bunch of good at-bats strung together and pushed a run across.”
Mire said his heart dropped a bit when the ball was hit, but that one of his playmakers simply did so in the clutch again.
“As soon as the ball was hit I thought, ‘oh no,’ because we’d just moved our centerfielder away from it … it was the play of the game. But hey, ask me how surprised I am that he makes the play … zero. That’s the type of team we have. We find ways to win.”
One of his players reminded him of just that in the late innings.
“He asked me, ‘Coach, you stressin’?’” Mire said. “I said, ‘yeah, we should have a few more runs.’ He said, ‘But Coach, this is what we do. We play close games and we win close games.’
“And I told him, ‘you’re right. That’s what we do.’”