Runnels’ Ponjuan, Episcopal’s Courter all-around winners
We had to battle some adversity today, and it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise that Lakeshore pushed us like this.” Johnny bernhard, St. Michael baseball coach
It was a scene befitting that of state championship-style celebration.
When Christopher Reid raced home from third base in the bottom of the eighth inning with the winning run in St. Michael the Archangel’s 5-4 baseball victory over Lakeshore, the entire team christened the moment with a dogpile near home plate.
Friday’s euphoric finish wasn’t necessarily representative of an opening-round victory but captured No. 10 St. Michael’s game-long struggle to overcome No. 23 Lakeshore of Mandeville and persevere in extra innings.
“We had to battle some adversity today, and it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise that Lakeshore pushed us like this,” said St. Michael coach Johnny Bernhard, who was at the bottom of the dogpile.
“It revealed the character of these kids and the mental toughness. Whether it’s the first or second round, you’re going to see a quality team in the playoffs, and you have to be ready to battle for seven innings.”
St. Michael travels next week to Lafayette to face No. 7 Teurlings Catholic, which it defeated 10-1 two weeks ago. The Warriors eliminated the Rebels 6-5 in last year’s state quarterfinals en route to a runner-up finish.
Lakeshore, a second-year varsity program, threw quite a scare into St. Michael with a 4-0 lead through four innings. Catcher Jacob McClure’s triple in the first inning made it 2-0. and the LSU-Eunice commitment added a two-run homer in the third, knocking out starting pitcher Alex Thibodeaux after allowing four runs on six hits in 2.2 innings.
Cameron Cochran, who battled an early season shoulder injury, came on to pitch 4.2 innings of scoreless relief. The senior didn’t allow a hit, struck out six and walked three.
“It’s easy for me to do my job when I know our offense will produce the runs,” Cochran said.
“I knew our offense would find a way to win us the game. I knew without a doubt that we were going to win. It was a team effort.”
Against starter Brett Brooks, St. Michael scored twice in the fifth, an inning ignited by Joshua Ambeau’s leadoff homer, and tied the game in the sixth with a pair of unearned runs on three errors.
St. Michael’s ability to put the ball in play paid dividends throughout, forcing Lakeshore into six errors, including a key throwing error in the eighth.
Reid, who reached on a two-out fielder’s choice, hustled all the way from first to third on Matt Smith’s single up the middle. When Reid drew a throw, Smith alertly continued to
second and an errant throw wound up in shallow center field and enabled Reid to slide home safely with the winning run.
“In the playoffs, you find a way to win and advance,” Bernhard said. “The margin of victory doesn’t matter just as long as you’re battling to the next round.
“We certainly have things to work on but we’re living to fight another day.”