LUTCHER — The margin of victory in a quarterfinal playoff game is typically a small one. The combination of ace Jared Poche and 10 hits helped second-seeded Lutcher High School notch an 11-1 win over No. 7 DeRidder on Tuesday afternoon.
The game was called after six innings because of the mercy rule.
Poche, an LSU signee, struck out 12, including nine in the first three innings. Zachary Zimmer was 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs to push the Bulldogs (27-4) to a berth in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 4A tournament set for Friday in Sulphur. Lutcher will face No. 6 Tioga.
“This means the world to me, the team, my family and the people who follow Lutcher baseball,” Lutcher coach Davy Clement said. “We’ve come close before. We lost in the quarterfinals last year. It was a great effort by Jared and the whole team. We had a very good day.”
The Bulldogs scored four runs in the second inning to take control. They closed the game out with four more in the sixth, including a two-RBI triple by Zimmer and an RBI single by Spencer Roussel. Tulane signee Corey Merrill was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Devin Jones took the loss for DeRidder (28-7), making its first quarterfinal appearance since 2005. Jones, Joe Mike Baldwin and Teddy Alexander each had one hit for DHS.
“When we would get something going, we just weren’t able to get the big hit,” DeRidder coach Chad Menard said. “We had the right guys at the plate.
“It just wasn’t our turn. It didn’t bounce our way today. We didn’t play well and they played great.”
The Bulldogs sent eight batters to the plate in the second. Merrill reached on an error and went to second on Luke Leblanc’s single to center. Roussel walked to load the bases.
Merrill scored on Sully Laiche’s bunt down the third-base line. Jordan Oubre then hit into a force-out that scored Leblanc. Roussel scored when Sully Martin grounded out.
A single to center by Zimmer brought Oubre in to score.
Poche (10-0) struck out six of the seven batters he faced in the first two innings. After striking out the leadoff batter in the top of the third, the left-hander faltered slightly. He hit DeRidder’s No. 9 hitter, Vinny Venturella. Brandon Hooper walked and Baldwin singled to load the bases. Poche struck out the next two batters to retire the Dragons.
“I knew I had to be on top of my game to beat a very good ballclub like DeRidder,” Poche said. “I just wanted to come in and throw a lot of strikes.”
Chase Calderera smacked the first pitch he saw from Jones in the third over the right-field fence, making it 5-0.
DeRidder loaded the bases in the top of the fourth, but scored just one run. Logan Myers walked with one out, took second on a bunt single by Alexander and went to third when the throw on Alexander’s bunt sailed wide of first.
Myers scored when Chandler Roberts hit a ground ball to third. The throw to the plate popped out of Calderera’s glove as Myers slid in. Venturella walked again to load the bases, but Poche retired the next two batters to end the inning.
Lutcher padded its lead in the fifth. Poche doubled and Calderera was hit by a pitch. A single by Merrill scored courtesy runners Nick Bourgeois and Gavin Englade to make it 7-1.
Oubre and Martin walked and scored on Zimmer’s triple to open the Lutcher sixth. An error allowed Zimmer to score. Roussel’s single brought home the final run.
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