Tigers split first four on the diamond, gaining experience

Matt Champagne
Matt Champagne leads Hahnville’s pitching rotation after posting a strong 2017 season.

After overturning much of its starting lineup from its 25-11 team a year ago, Hahnville split its first four games of the season, earning wins over Hammond and Denham Springs and losses to Dutchtown and East Ascension.

Hahnville coach David Baudry’s team is senior-laden, but must earn experience: just five of the Tigers’ starters were full time or part time starters in 2017.

That said, the coach is happy with how his seniors have taken the leadership role seriously.

“They’ve really taken the lead and made their preparation count,” Baudry said. “We understand that with inexperience comes mistakes. But I think our guys have been around enough to navigate through it. And the effort has been tremendous. Their work ethic and competitiveness has really been great to see. We’ve still got some things to learn, and only though game experience is that going to come.”

The team’s pitching rotation will be led by ace Matt Champagne, who went 5-2 with a 0.70 ERA in last year’s regular season.

“He’s our most experienced guy, and he’s been on the mound in some big games,” Baudry said, noting his senior’s starts against Destrehan, Barbe and in the playoffs against Sulphur. “He’s worked extremely hard and we’ll be relying on him.”

Dane Wise and Joey Saucier will also be counted on to help anchor the rotation.

Offensively, Hunter LeBlanc leads the way, a three year starter and Hahnville’s leadoff man and centerfielder.

“He’s an excellent player, one of the most talented athletes on our campus,” Baudry said. “He understands the game and he has a motor that never stops. He’s really, really competitive, but he’s able to control his emotions. He’s a seasoned veteran.”

It was a walk off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning that propelled Dutchtown past Hahnville at Saturday’s Stephen Richardson tournament in Gonzales on Saturday, with Brayden Caskey’s fly ball plating Cohen Parent for the edge in a 2-1 victory.

The game featured a pitcher’s duel between Champagne and Dutchtown’s Brock Barthelemy much of the way. Champagne went the complete game, pitching 6.1 innings and allowing two runs on six hits. He struck out five and walked three. Barthelemy went five scoreless, two hit innings and struck out seven before giving way to the bullpen. Jack Merrifield earned the win after pitching two scoreless innings.

Champagne drove in Hahnville’s lone run.

Three early runs se-t the tone in Hahnville’s 7-1 victory over Hammond. LeBlanc went 2-for-3 with three RBIs while Josh Nunez collected two hits and an RBI. Cameron Galland went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

Wise earned the win for Hahnville, going six innings and allowing one run on four hits. He struck out seven and walked two.

Hahnville’s 5-4 loss to East Ascension was another tough late-inning loss for HHS, with EA scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to earn the win. Grant Griffin led EA with two RBIs, while Hayden Theriot led Hahnville offensively by driving in two runs.

Saucier started the game and went six innings and allowing three runs on seven hits. Dustin Ford took the loss in relief. EA reliever Preston Thrash earned the win.

Hahnville got three hits and an RBI from Beau Landry and two hits and three runs scored from Hunter LeBlanc in its season-opening 6-3 win over Denham Springs.

Champagne got the win for Hahnville, going 4.2 innings and allowing two earned runs on four hits. He struck out five and walked one. Wise pitched a scoreless inning in relief for the save. HHS led 6-1 after four innings.

This weekend, Hahnville (2-2) is slated for tournament action against De La Salle, Zachary and Hammond. And a week after that, the team heads to Lake Charles to face off with three strong programs in more tournament play, with Barbe, Jesuit and Evangel on the slate.

Baudry hopes to see his team convert some of those close losses to wins as experience comes. Being ready to compete in May and make a playoff push is the goal.

“The way this team approaches everything with a serious nature, focuses and prepares well, I think that win or lose, these tough games early will prepare us for district and the playoffs,” he said.

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