NEW ORLEANS — Sam Houston baseball coach Brad Book told his team exactly what the Class 5A Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s State Tournament was going to be like.
He told him it was going to rain, that they would have to sit through hours of delays, that they would be told to go back to the hotel, then come back to the park. And he told them they would have to battle hard to win. And this was back in January.
He got it all right. Sam Houston had to battle back from deficits twice to take an 8-6 victory over No. 3 seed Brother Martin in Saturday’s quarterfinals, which were delayed a day by rain after a hours-long rain delay. The Broncos (25-9) advanced to the semifinals against Zachary, which was played later Saturday. The winner of that game will advance to the championship game to be played at 2 p.m. Sunday at Tulane’s Turchin Stadium.
“It’s crazy,” Book said. “This is what you expect at the state tournament — two good teams, exchanging leads the entire game. It’s a fun game to be a part of.”
“He’s a fortune teller,” said Bronco Blake Perrodin, who finished 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs. “He told us from Day 1, this is what it’s going to be like.”
After Sam Houston took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Brother Martin scored four runs in the bottom of the inning off of four hits and two walks. With two outs and a runner on first, Boot pulled starting pitcher Collin Kober for Kelsey Richard.
“I looked at the lineup and didn’t see my name in there, it kind of frustrated me,” said Richard. “It wasn’t the first time it’s happened this year. But coach talks about, at some point in the game, you’re going to be needed. At the beginning I might have got a little emotional. I was angry.”
But Richard settled down enough to hold the Crusaders to two runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out four to get the win.
Sam Houston, meanwhile, pounded 14 hits — including four doubles — off three Brother Martin pitchers. Cliff Reid had two hits, including an RBI single in the top of the seventh that padded the Broncos’ lead. Blake Perrodin went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a walk and drove in three runs. His second double, in the fourth inning, tied the game at 4.
Brother Martin scored two in the bottom of the fourth to take a 6-4 lead into the fifth. But it wouldn’t be enough. Sam Houston cut the lead with a single by Kameron Esthay and a double by Andrew Bryan. The Broncos then overtook the Crusaders in the sixth with a single by Reid and a double by Esthay. Reid’s single, which scored Evan Campbell, capped the scoring.
It wasn’t the ending Brother Martin would have predicted. The Crusaders had a remarkable season in which they recorded a school-record 30 wins, went undefeated in District 9-5A play and put together a 16-game winning streak.
“I’m very proud of the guys. They kept battling every day,” said Brother Martin coach Mark Wisniewski. “It was a great group of men I’ve had the opportunity to work with. They came out and gave us everything they had on a daily basis. And when you do that, you can’t say a whole lot else about anything.
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