What has been old was new once again for University High as the Cubs advanced to the Class 2A baseball semifinals with a 12-6 win over Dunham on Saturday night.
It was the Cubs’ third win in as many tries against their District 7-2A rival this season.
“I’m very proud of my team,” coach Burke Broussard said. “We played great defense and got some clutch hits to advance.”
The middle of the order proved to be deadly for the Cubs. No. 3 hitter Gino Marucci drove in three runs, and clean-up hitter Steven Sensley was right behind him with two hits and two RBIs.
It was more than enough for relief pitcher John Lewis, who came in with only one out in the first inning and pitched well into the seventh to earn the win.
But what really cost Dunham were eight errors by the infield, leading to seven unearned runs.
“Eight errors in anything is pretty uncharacteristic for us, and it hurt,” Dunham coach Joey Thibodeaux said. “My kids battled and played hard, but U-High came in and took advantage of our mistakes and did what they needed to do to win.”
Lewis struck out a season-high six batters and only gave up three runs on four hits.
“I’m just so pumped up about this game,” Lewis said. “I wanted to help out my team the best I could.”
The Cubs loaded the bases in their at-bat, and Brandt Broussard scored from third on a wild pitch by Dunham pitcher Ben McClelland. But the senior pitcher got out of the jam with minimal damage by forcing a Manny Miles ground out to strand runners at second and third.
After a run-scoring double by Kyle Duhe, McClelland made amends for the early run he surrendered with a two-run homer off starting pitcher Spencer Hancock to put the Tigers up 3-1.
The early barrage by Dunham forced Hancock out of the game with only one out recorded. Broussard called on Lewis to get out of the first.
“Dunham is just too good of a hitting team, and they got to Hancock,” Broussard said. “I told Lewis just to minimize the damage, and he did that.”
Pitching with the lead in the second, Hancock retired the first two batters before walking the next three. Marucci made him pay with a bases-clearing double to retake the lead.
Sensley followed with an RBI single to put the Cubs up 5-3 and end McClelland’s outing after just 1.2 innings.
“We didn’t panic,” Broussard said of the early deficit. “We knew we had the bats to get us back in the game.”
McClelland (5-4) gave up four runs on two hits and four walks. He did lead the Tigers at the plate, with two hits and two RBIs.
After two scoreless innings, the Cubs pushed across three runs in the fifth on just one hit, aided by two throwing errors from third baseman Tyler Thompson.
The Tigers cut the deficit to four runs in the bottom of the inning on a solo home run to left by sophomore John Austin Volland. But the Cubs answered back with two runs in the sixth on three more Dunham errors.
“U-High has got a great team. They played well, and we made it much too easy on them,” Thibodeaux said.
Dunham finally got to Lewis for two runs on a double by Tyler Thompson in the seventh, but Miles came in and shut the door to clinch the win.