MONROE — The rain affected every LHSAA state baseball tournament except the one for Classes 1A and 2A at the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s Warhawk Field.
All games were on time, but the wet outfield played a huge part in the Class 2A title game Saturday afternoon between University High and Evangel Christian.
After U-High starter John Lewis walked two batters with two outs in the third inning, senior center fielder Gino Marucci slipped trying to catch pop fly and the ball came out of his glove to score two Evangel runners.
It was all the Eagles needed as they claimed their second 2A title in the past three years with a 2-0 win over the No. 3 seeded Cubs.
“We walked the field before the game, and there was a lot of water out there,” University coach Burke Broussard said. “I was trying to keep (Marucci’s) spirits up. I know everyone is going to live on that play, but we didn’t score any runs, so we still would have been whatever.
“That kid is probably the greatest hitter I’ve ever coached in 25 years, and he didn’t lose the ballgame.”
Evangel starter Scotty Harvill kept the Cubs bats silent, throwing a one-hitter (an infield single by James Kern in the second inning). Harvill allowed just four base runners on the day.
Kern was also the only Cubs runner to reach scoring position when he moved to second on an errant throw on his infield single and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt.
U-High put runners on the corners with one out when Jake Alexander walked, but a squeeze bunt by designated hitter Daniel Lockwood went awry when ECA pitcher Harvill went to first and Kern was doubled up at home on a quick throw back to the plate to end the top of the second.
The Cubs only had one more base runner the remainder of the game.
“It’s just hard to emulate a guy like him,” Broussard said of Harvill. “It’s hard to turn around and have the energy to face a guy like we faced last night (Garrett Williams of Calvary), then turn around with him. We tried to put the ball into play. He just had our number today.
“Our guys battled at the plate. Sometimes you just face a pitcher that’s a little bit better than you, and he was better than us today.”
Harvill, who was named the title game’s MVP, struck out seven in his complete-game effort and walked just two in addition to hitting a batter.
“I guess we gave it almost our all the last game,” Marucci said, referring to U-High’s 12-1 semifinal win over top seeded Calvary Baptist on Friday. “I think Calvary got our all. I think our tank was empty.”
University junior pitcher John Lewis also went the distance for the Cubs and gave up five hits, while striking out two and walking four.
The right-hander was pinned with his first loss of the season to finish the year 7-1.
The Cubs end the season 29-7, marking a school record for most wins in one season.
Broussard had to take a moment to collect his composure when talking about the achievements of this year’s squad, including six seniors.
“To do what they did (in Friday’s 12-1 win against Calvary Baptist) was the greatest win in U-High history,” Broussard said before pausing as tears filled his eyes. I just told them we were consistent all year. We came out and gave it our all.”