MONROE — St. John-Plaquemine scored the first run of its Class 1A semifinal contest against No. 2 Mangham.
The Eagles also scored their second run in the second inning, but it would be the last time the No. 6 seed capitalized with runners in scoring position, helping Mangham to post a 4-2 victory at the LHSAA Class 1A state tournament at the University of Louisiana-Monroe’s Warhawk Field.
St. John (28-7) stranded 13 base runners, including nine in scoring position, and had the go-ahead run at the plate in the top of the seventh inning.
“They made a few plays,” St. John coach Heath Whittington said. “It’s a game of inches, and when you’re in a tight ballgame like that, you’ve got to execute. They got a couple runs that we didn’t get.”
The Eagles scored their first run in the first inning after taking advantage of an erratic start by Mangham pitcher Garrett Dye, who walked three straight batters after opening with a strikeout.
St. John first baseman Seth Gulotta took advantage of the bases-loaded situation with a sacrifice fly to left field to score Colby Landry.
Dye worked his way out of the jam giving up just the one run, and Mangham (28-8) evened the game in the bottom of the inning when right fielder Ridge Heisler led off with a double off St. John’s starter Hunter Schnebelen.
After a sacrifice bunt moved the runner over, catcher Chance Fleming came through with an RBI single to left field.
The game went back and forth the first three innings, with St. John re-taking the lead 2-1 in the second, and Mangham responding in the third. The Dragons used small ball again, starting off with a single, bunting the runner over and another single set up the sacrifice fly to knot the game 2-2.
Only this time, Mangham was not done, with first baseman Lance Romero giving the No. 2 seed the lead for good an RBI single up the middle.
“We put lot of runners on by walking people, and they couldn’t capitalize and get the hit,” Mangham coach Scott Wilcher said. “We did. We got runners on, bunted them over and got the hit and scored four runs.”
The fourth run came in the sixth inning off Schnebelen when Mangham started the inning with Trey Cureington reaching on an error after a strikeout.
From there, Mangham picked up a single and Schnebelen intentionally walked leadoff hitter Heisler to load the bases and set up the force, but the right-hander walked the next batter to force in the run.
The Eagles started the seventh inning with a single and pinch hitter Rene Ledet drew a two-out walk. A wild pitch put the runners in scoring position, but lead off Morgan Booksh struck out to end the game.
“We played them twice earlier in the year, and it was just like that — back and forth,” Wilcher said. “We didn’t want it to be that close, but it was.”
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