Live Oak knocks off Brother Martin

The message was loud and clear when the Live Oak baseball players broke their postgame huddle on Sunday.

“We ain’t done yet!,” the Eagles players screamed in unison.

No, they’re not.

They’re headed to Sulphur.

The Live Oak bats came alive and the 10th-seeded Eagles stunned No. 2 Brother Martin 10-6 in decisive Game 3 of the Class 5A quarterfinals at First NBC Park on the UNO campus.

“This is the best feeling I have ever felt in my life,” Live Oak junior designated hitter Colby Freneaux said.” We worked all year for it, and it finally happened.”

Live Oak (30-9), playing in the quarterfinals for the first time as a 5A school, advances to the semifinals play Jesuit on Friday in Sulphur.

The Eagles (30-9) used a big second inning to key Sunday’s victory and spoil any chances of an all-Catholic League semifinal between Jesuit and Brother Martin.

It came right after Brother Martin took a 1-0 lead in the first.

The Eagles answered with five runs in the second inning on five hits. Gage Lockwood’s infield single to start the inning got things going. Jared Forrest then reached on a bunt. Zach Hansen’s sacrifice fly to left field drove in the first run and it was followed by Freneaux’s RBI double. Freneaux scored on a balk and the Eagles also got RBI singles from Tyler Alexander and Justin Webb.

“That’s the way we tend to work,” said Freneaux, who finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs. “One guy starts it off and everybody just follows.”

Live Oak stretched its lead to 8-3 in the fifth on Freneaux’s two-run double.

A huge pinch hit double by Brother Martin’s Kevin Stretzinger cut it to 8-5 in the fifth. But it was as close as the Crusaders would get, despite one last-ditch comeback attempt in the seventh when it trailed 10-5. Brother Martin’s first two batters walked and the third batter was hit by a pitch.

Lenni Kunnert, who replaced starter Michael Claverle in the fifth, got out of the jam by allowing just one run before getting LSU signee Greg Deichmann to fly out to end it.

The Eagles won two straight in the series, dropping the opener 6-2 before forcing a Game 3 with Saturday’s 2-0 victory.

“One game we get a great performance from (Zach) Hansen on the mound and get two runs to win it,” Live Oak coach Greg Briggs said. “And the game we lost, we didn’t pitch too well and we walked too many guys. This game we knew Michael hadn’t thrown in a while, since the Zachary game. We weren’t real sure what type of shape his arm was going to be in, so we had to outscore them. That’s not what we normally do, but this group just finds a way to win.”

Live Oak finished with 12 hits on Sunday. Forrest had three hits, while Claverle, Webb and Freneaux had two hits each.

“(Assistant coach) Mike Palermo does a great job with the hitters and keeps them focused,” said Briggs. “We get 12 hits and Freneaux comes up with the big hit and we get some 2-out hits to take some pressure off the pitchers. That’s not how we win, but today it was what it took and we got it done.”

Brother Martin (31-6) lost in the quarterfinals for a second straight year after falling to Sam Houston last season.

“I’m proud of my guys,” Crusaders coach Mark Wisniewski said. “We had a great year with 31 wins and we had a district title. That’s a positive thing. It’s obviously not ending up where we wanted it to end up, and that’s what hurts.”

The game was delayed for 29 minutes and the field was covered with tarp after the top of the sixth inning because of possible rain. The Eagles led 8-5 at that point and didn’t let the delay disrupt his team’s rhythm.

Kunert struck out three batters the rest of the way and didn’t allow another hit.

Briggs said his team never was bothered by the weather that constantly caused delays in the series.

“Before we came down here, we talked about how we were going to have to be mentally tough,” Briggs said. “The team that was more mentally tough was going to win the series.”