U-High facing defending champion

Familiar opponent Mangham awaits St. John in 1A

“I knew we’d be good but I didn’t know we would be this good.We’ve been really well rounded all year, and it’s been consistent and what we’ve hung our hat on.” Burke broussard,  University baseball coach

University High’s baseball team has assembled a glittering résumé with a District 7-2A championship and a school record for number of wins.

In order to truly leave a legacy as the school’s most accomplished team, however, the Cubs must go where no other team in school history has gone before and that’s to win a Class 2A state championship.

That quest continues when No. 4 University (28-6) meets No. 1 and defending state champion Calvary Baptist (28-5) in a semifinal at 1 p.m. Friday at ULM’s Warhawk Field.

“You aspire to get to the tournament, to have a chance to play for a state championship and it’s so hard these days with so much parity,” U-High coach Burke Broussard said. “From top to bottom, 2A is as tough as there is. We’re fortunate and excited to be in this position.”

Sixth-seeded St. John- Plaquemine (28-6) finds itself in a similar situation, returning to the state tournament for the first time in a decade in search of its first state title, facing second-seeded Mangham (26-8) in a Class 1A semifinal at 4 p.m. Friday at Warhawk Field.

“I think anything less than the position we’re in would have been a disappointment in my eyes,” St. John coach Heath Whittington said. “I really had faith in this team. I think we expected to be where we are.”

UHIGH-CALVARY: U-High’s back in the state tournament for the first time since consecutive appearances in 2008-09. The Cubs made one trip to the title game in Broussard’s second season, falling to Newman in 2000.

U-High is riding a span in which they’ve won 11 of 12 games and 14 of their past 16.

Sophomore ace Manny Miles (10-0, 0.42 ERA) will start for the Cubs and opposes projected high-round major league draft choice Garrett Williams, a 6-foot-2 senior left-hander with a fastball clocked in the low 90s. Williams brings in a 6-3 record, 1.56 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 54 innings. The Cavaliers also boast right-hander Stephen Morrison (10-1, 0.81 ERA).

Senior center fielder Gino Marucci is one U-High’s offensive catalysts with a team-high .537 batting average, 13 doubles and 41 RBIs, along with senior right fielder Steven Sensley (.440, 7 HRs, 38 RBIs).

“I knew we’d be good but I didn’t know we would be this good,” Broussard said. “We’ve been really rounded all year, and it’s been consistent and what we’ve hung our hat on.”

ST. JOHN-MANGHAM: St. John last reached the state championship game in 2003, when the Eagles lost 7-6 to Country Day.

St. John will have to solve a familiar opponent in order to make it to the 4 p.m. Saturday final, having split a pair of games this season with Mangham. The Eagles lost 6-4 in their season opener Feb. 22 and answered with a 9-4 win on March 7 in a SJHS’s tourney.

“I think we’re extremely well matched,” Whittington said. “What they do is similar to what we do. I don’t think either one of us is going to be able to surprise the other one. It’s going to be a good game.”

St. John has reeled off 10 wins in its past 11 games, including a tenuous stretch of a pair of one-run playoff wins and a come-from-behind 4-1 effort against Westminster Christian last week.

Shortstop Trevor Curry, a Southeastern Louisiana signee, leads the Eagles with a .528 average, 10 homers and 53 RBIs.

Whittington said he will choose between Seth Gulotta (5-1, 2.10 ERA), Hunter Schnebelen (8-1, 1.59), Brandon Noel (8-1, 2.70) or Rene Ledet (4-2, 2.60) to start on the mound.

“I think both programs expected to be there,” Whittington said. “It’s an exciting time of the year, and I don’t think they’re going to be happy just to be there and I don’t think we are either. It’s going to be a game to watch.”