“We have to be sharper earlier in the game. We have to make sure we’re getting good pitches to hit and not swinging at the pitcher’s pitch.” Johnny Bernhard, St. Michael baseball coach
That St. Michael the Archangel suffered a 6-0 nondistrict defeat Saturday afternoon at the hands of Notre Dame of Crowley won’t impact the Warriors’ status as the co-leaders in the District 6-4A baseball race.
However, with the season-long objective of winning a league title still viable, St. Michael found out it must still remedy a few aspects of its game to extend its current string of consecutive district titles to five.
“If we want to achieve our long-term goals, we have to come out and compete better at the plate,” St. Michael coach Johnny Bernhard said. “We have to be sharper earlier in the game. We have to make sure we’re getting good pitches to hit and not swinging at the pitcher’s pitch.”
Notre Dame, the state’s No. 7 ranked team in Class 3A and leader in District 4-3A, won for the seventh straight time and defeated a St. Michael team ranked fourth in Class 4A.
The Pioneers (13-11) built a 3-0 lead through three innings and added three more in the seventh inning in support of winning pitcher Dillan Gilbert’s complete-game, five-hit shutout.
Gilbert (2-0), typically the team’s closer, entered with just five innings for the year,
but he was in control throughout, holding St. Michael scoreless for the first time this season. Of his 89 pitches, 53 were strikes.
“He doesn’t get on the mound a lot, so that can affect your rhythm and your mechanics,” Notre Dame coach Tim Robichaux said. “But every time we’ve put him up this season, he’s done a great job for us on the mound.”
Gilbert navigated his way in rapid fashion, facing just three over the minimum batters through six innings.
St. Michael (16-8) got more than one runner on in an inning and had a runner reach second base for just the second time in the game when James Smith beat out an infield single and Kyle Bankston walked in the seventh.
Gilbert then got Kyle Cannatella to fly out to right field for the second out, and Notre Dame registered its second double play when right fielder Sam Veillon doubled Bankston off of first to end the game.
“I just thought Notre Dame came more ready to play today,” Bernhard said. “Hat’s off to their pitcher. He pounded the strike zone. He induced a lot of ground balls.”
Notre Dame took advantage of two of St. Michael’s three errors and got sacrifice flies from Veillon in the first and Gilbert in the third for a three-run lead.
St. Michael starter Christopher Reid (4-1) held Notre Dame scoreless and to two singles until exiting with one out in the seventh when the Pios exploded for three runs on four of their eight hits.
Reid allowed six hits, five runs (three earned), walked two and struck out four before J.T. Mauldin came on in relief.
No. 9 hitter Hogan Guidry’s one-out single triggered a succession of four straight singles — the last three from Gavin Bourgeois (2-3), Brad Stoma (3-3) and Gilbert all driving in runs.
“That’s what you always hope for, and that’s to peak at the right time,” said Robichaux, whose team was 2-7 a month ago.
“We got off to a little slow start, but we have been playing better and getting more consistent. That’s what you kind of hope for at the back end of your district season.”