Big sixth inning propels CCHS to semis

The third time was the charm for the Central Catholic Eagles Saturday in Amelia.

Sophomore pitcher Bryson Barbier tossed a five-hitter as CCHS stunned second-seeded Vermilion Catholic, 8-3, in the Class 1A quarterfinals to advance to the state semifinals at Louisiana Tech in Ruston this weekend. It's the first time since CCHS coach Tyler Jensen's senior year of high school in 2005, when CCHS won its last state title, that the squad has made it to Class 1A's final four.

The Eagles will face the winner of No. 14 Opelousas Catholic and No. 11 Metairie Park Country Day, who are scheduled to play today.

VC’s Ryan David singled in the first inning and clean-up hitter Aaron David launched a two-out, two-run home run to left center field to give the visiting Eagles an early 2-0 lead.

“I was a little shaky in the beginning,” Barbier said. “But I knew that if I threw strikes then my team would have my back. It has been that way all season, so I settled down and pitched my game.”

In a complete game effort, Barbier surrendered three earned runs on six hits. He walked two, hit three batters and struck out two.

CCHS (19-10) answered VC’s run with one of their own in the bottom of the frame when Josh Singleton reached second on one of four VC errors. Austin Autin followed with a bunt that VC (27-7) booted to give CCHS runners at the corners. Luke Landry then reached on a fielder’s choice scoring Singleton to close at 2-1 after one inning of play.

VC’s Ryan Domingue and CCHS’ Barbier kept both team’s offenses off balance for the next couple innings.

Central Catholic, the No. 10 seed, tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when designated hitter Barron Courtney smashed a curve ball over the left field fence to tie the game at 2.

After Landry and Dominick Guarisco reached base to give Eagles runners at first and third with two outs, Vermilion Catholic brought in staff ace Mark LaPorte. The all-state pitcher got out of the inning with one pitch.

Domingue went 42/3 innings and surrendered one earned run on five hits. He also struck out three.

CCHS was waiting on LaPorte in the sixth inning, however, as the home squad sent 10 players to the plate and scored six runs on seven hits to blow the game open, 8-2.

“I told the guys that they had beat us twice in district play and that didn’t mean anything,” Jensen said. “I used the LSU-Alabama football analogy to make them believe. I knew that if we kept putting pressure on them then we would break through.”

Despite LaPorte’s bad outing, Vermilion Catholic’s coaches wouldn’t change a thing.

“Ninety-nine times out of 100, LaPorte is going to get through two innings clean,” VC head coach Danny McMurtry said. “Unfortunately this one time they were able to push the ball through.”

VC (27-7) scored a run on a wild play in the seventh inning, which ended with a run down and a tag out.

“I didn’t get rattled when they got some base runners in the final inning,” Barbier said. “I just took it one pitch at a time.”

Prior to Saturday’s win, Vermilion Catholic had beaten Central Catholic five times in a row, including a 2-0 victory in Amelia and a 9-2 victory in Abbeville during District 8-1A play this year.

“We are not the same team,” Jensen said. “We kept getting better as the year went on. There may be teams with better individual talent, but we are a better team, and we believe in each other.”

Every CCHS starter recorded at least one hit in Saturday’s victory.

Courtney led the squad with a 2-for-4 performance with a home run, two RBIs and a run, while Eriq Blanchard and Nick Case each finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs, with Case adding a double. Autin and Barbier each had a hit, while Singleton, Landry, Guarisco and Ridge Rousseau each finished 1-for-4, with Landry and Guarisco each adding an RBI.

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