St. John rallies for win over Westminster

BELLEVUE — St. John-Plaquemine’s Morgan Booksh canceled any fears for an unhappy ending to his high school baseball career Saturday afternoon.

Behind 0-and-2 in the count and his team trailing 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Booksh was determined that he would get to play at least another inning.

Instead of becoming the last out, Booksh, drilled a Jalen Williams fastball for a double that prolonged a game that eventually ended with a 4-1 victory against Westminster Christian Academy in a Class 1A quarterfinal baseball playoff game.

St. John (28-6), seeded sixth, advanced to the state baseball tournament scheduled to begin Friday at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

Williams, who struck out 10, threw the two-strike pitch that Booksh said he anticipated.

“I was thinking it would be a fastball,” said Booksh, who pitched the final 1.2 innings. “I had two strikes on me at the time, and what I was most concerned about was striking out and ending my high school career that way.”

The double by Booksh eventually led to four runs and three more Eagles’ hits.

A single up the middle by Colby Landry scored Booksh with the tying run, and successive singles by designated hitter Seth Caballero and first baseman Seth Gulotta generated the last two runs. Caballero’s single scored Landry and Curry, while Gulotta’s base hit brought in Curry.

Booksh, the leadoff hitter, had three of the Eagles’ eight hits.

St. John coach Heath Whittington, who started the Westminster baseball program, said the game was a classic contest in which his team never gave up.

“Bend but never break,” Whittington said. “This win is just incredible. Booksh has been ice water all season. With the count 0 and 2, we weren’t taking. Williams had been getting the slider over for the second strike and if he got that, he was going to go with the fastball for the strikeout and (Booksh) reached out and got it.”

Whittington said he thought Caballero would get the base hit.

“It was really something that we practiced, him coming up to bat and getting the game-winning hit. I figured Barry would walk Curry and then Caballero would get the hit,” said Whittington.

St. John left hander Hunter Schnebelen struck out six before being pulled for Booksh in the sixth.

“Hunter was up there in the pitch count, and Morgan has saved nine games for us this season. He really hung in there,” Whittington said.

St. John third baseman Chris Patin erased a pair of Crusaders’ rallies.

In the fourth, Patin started a double play when he fielded a ground ball and stepped on the bag for the forced out and then threw to first base to get Williams. Patin made a backhanded diving grab of another grounder in the third inning then got up and threw to first base for the out.

The game was scoreless until the sixth when the Crusaders scored their run. WCA Tyler Louviere singled through the infield, and Williams scored as the throw was off line.

and caromed into the fence near the Eagles dugout.

The Crusaders, who were attempting to reach a baseball semifinal for the first time, ended the season 18-12. WCA, seeded No. 14, entered with 13 wins in its last 17 games.

“A game of inches is what they say and that’s the way it ended for us,” Westminster coach Barry Manuel said. “A few more inches and it would have been a strike. I have to be proud of my team, finishing strong.”

Williams pitched all but the final out in the seventh inning.

Manuel said Williams had also thrown many pitches, but he decided to leave him in the game.

“I asked Jalen how he felt and he said he was all right,” Manuel said. “I wasn’t going to argue with a senior pitcher who still wants the ball. On that two-out hit, (Williams) just got too much of the plate.”