In seasons past, the loser of a district baseball game had to sometimes wait weeks before getting another crack at that same opponent.
But with teams now playing back-to-back contests against the same team, it’s a whole new ball game. And it also means The Dunham School gets a second shot at Runnels in less than 48 hours.
Runnels (10-7, 1-0) hosts Dunham (14-7, 0-1) at 4 p.m. Thursday in District 7-2A action. The Raiders took a 5-2 victory over the Tigers on Tuesday, and even though his team lost that game, Dunham coach Joey Thibodeaux sad he is excited about the game and new format.
The 7-2A game helps highlight Thursday’s baseball action in the Baton Rouge area.
“What I think this does is level the playing field,” Thibodeaux said. “It’s more of a true measure of how the two teams match up instead of just the pitchers.
“Before, teams would be able to save a top pitcher and only throw him against certain teams. Now you can throw that pitcher in one game, but you have to throw somebody else in the other.”
Tuesday’s game provides an excellent example. LSU signee Alden Cartwright pitched for Runnels in a game that both coaches described as highly competitive. On Thursday, Josh Morris (3-3) takes the mound for the Raiders, and will face Dunham ace Ryan May (4-1).
“This format is something baseball coaches have wanted for a long time,” Runnels coach Tookie Johnson said. “I like it. I think it is more of a true measure of each team, instead of who the top pitchers are.
“The thing we expected from Dunham was a battle. They fought us all the way. It was a game that came down to just a couple of swings of bat, a few plays and some pitches. We’ll be facing May this time and it will be a little different, but we know it will be a battle.”
The two teams are part of three-team power-broker group in 7-2A. University High (16-4, 1-0) is ranked second among Class 2A teams in the Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association’s 2A poll. Dunham and Runnels are also in the top 10.
Redemptorist, one of the area’s hottest teams, is also a 7-2A contender. Runnels faces U-High in its next two-game 7-2A sequence next week, which also factors into the long-range picture.
Morris, who is also hitting .402 to lead the Raiders, has a 1.35 earned run average and lost some tough predistrict games to higher classification teams. Johnson son, Bobby, is Runnels’ catcher and is hitting .372.
Ben McClelland, who pitched Tuesday, returns to shortstop for Dunham on Thursday and has a team-high .456 average. Catcher Kyle Duhe is hitting .389.
“We played Runnels a lot of the last couple of years, so there won’t be any secrets,” Thibodeaux said. “You can expect a good game.”