Championship drought continues
Central Catholic shortstop Bryson Barbier prepares to throw to first base to complete a double play in the top of the seventh inning after getting Garrett Granger out at second base. No. 7 Cedar Creek upset No. 3 Central Catholic 13-8 in the Class 1A semifinal Friday. The Cougars went on to win the Class 1A title Saturday with a 5-1 win against No. 9 seed Sacred Heart of Ville Platte. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)
Central Catholic’s Stefano Guarisco celebrates after scoring a run for the third-seeded Eagles during Friday’s Class 1A semifinal against No. 7 seed Cedar Creek. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)
Central Catholic coach Tyler Jensen talks to his squad prior to their Class 1A semifinal contest against Cedar Creek Friday at McMurry Park in Sulphur. Cedar Creek, the No. 7 seed, upset No. 3 seed Central Catholic 13-8. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)
Bryson Barbier hugs his brother, Matthew Barbier, following Friday’s 13-8 loss to Cedar Creek in the Class 1A semifinal Friday. Bryson Barbier started and took the loss in Friday’s contest, while Matthew Barbier was his brother’s catcher. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)
The Central Catholic Eagles’ baseball team has been on the cusp of a state championship the past two seasons, falling in the Class 1A title game.
On Friday, the squad entered the Class 1A state semifinals at McMurry Park in Sulphur looking to start their quest to the finals and seal the deal on their third trip.
Unfortunately, things didn’t get any better as No. 7 seed Cedar Creek pounded out eight runs in the fourth inning to take control and upset the No. 3 seed Eagles, 13-8 in the 1A semifinals.
Central Catholic head coach Tyler Jensen said his squad didn’t play well.
“We swung it decent early,” he said. “We took advantage of some of their mistakes. We didn’t catch a whole lot of breaks, and we just didn’t play well. It wasn’t our day. Give them a lot of credit. They’re good. They swing the bat well, good arms, they play good defense. We just couldn’t overcome our nerves. We were tight early, which surprised me and it was like we just couldn’t get over that hump.”
The Eagles’ (27-5) upset loss was one of seven in 14 games in the semifinals in all classes, including the second on Friday in Class 1A. Earlier Friday, No. 9 seed Sacred Heart of Ville Platte knocked off No. 4 seed St. John 6-4 in other Class 1A semifinal action.
On Saturday, Cedar Creek (31-5) defeated Sacred Heart 5-1.
In Friday’s semifinal contest with Central Catholic, Cedar Creek entered the top of the fifth inning trailing 7-5.
While Central Catholic pitcher Bryson Barbier looked an inning earlier as if he was settling in after a tough start to the game, Cedar Creek got on the scoreboard when, with one out, Cole Fraiser singled to left field and Jacob Brown, who had begun the inning with a double to deep centerfield to lead off the inning, came around to score.
Later in the inning with two outs, Cedar Creek tied the game on a single to center field by Huff McIntosh, while the Cougars took the lead for good on a two-run bloop single by Mark VanDenLangenberg to centerfield that fell in front of Stefano Guarisco to score two more for a 9-7 advantage.
Two more runs scored on a single to right field and an error by Sage Thibodaux, prompting Jensen to make a pitching change, bringing in Charlie Barron.
Cedar Creek scored two more runs via a Central Catholic error and Wes Greshman’s single to left field for a 13-7 advantage.
While Central Catholic loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Cedar Creek got out of the inning surrendering just one run when Barbier was walked with the bases loaded to bring in Barron Courtney.
Brown, who earned the win in relief of Grant Clary, got out of the jam, striking out Guarisco and forcing Thibodaux to fly out.
The Eagles got a runner on base in the bottom of the seventh with two outs when Matthew Barbier was hit by a pitch but the game ended when Courtney flied out to right field where Gresham made a sliding catch.
“It wasn’t our day,” Jensen said. “I feel for these guys. I feel for these seniors. We just got to go from here.”
Early on, Cedar Creek took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning via an error by Matthew Barbier and a sacrifice fly by Fraiser to left field.
Central Catholic responded with three runs in the bottom of the first inning when Nick Case singled to right field past a leaping attempt at a catch by Cedar Creek’s Jacob Antee, scored courtesy runner Tony Pennison.
Central Catholic scored two more runs when Brown couldn’t handle Clary’s pickoff attempt with the bases loaded and Courtney and Barron both scored for a 3-2 Central Catholic lead.
Cedar Creek retook the lead at 5-3 in the top of the second inning following a bases-clearing triple by Brown.
However, the Eagles responded in the bottom of the third inning with runs via a bases-clearing single by Guarisco and a single by Thibodaux to increase the Eagles’ lead to 7-5.
Cedar Creek outhit Central Catholic 14-5 in the contest, while the Eagles made four errors to Cedar Creek’s 3.
All five of the Eagles’ hits were singles.
Central Catholic left 10 runners on base to Cedar Creek’s seven. Five of the Eagles runners were left in scoring position.
Guarisco led the Eagles with a 1-for-3 performance with three RBIs and a run; Thibodaux was 1-for-3 with an RBI; Case, 1-for-4, an RBI; and Bryson Barbier, an RBI and a run.
VanDenLangenberg led Cedar Creek with a 4-for-5 performance with a double, two RBIs and two runs, while Brown was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple, three RBIs and two runs.
Other top contributors included Fraiser, 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run; McIntosh, 2-for-4, an RBI and two runs; Aaron Hunt, 2-for-4, two runs; Antee, 1-for-3, two RBIs and three runs; and Gresham, 1-for-4, an RBI.
Brown earned the win. In four innings of relief, he surrendered an earned run on a hit with four walks and four strikeouts.
Bryson Barbier took the loss. In 4.2 innings, he surrendered 12 runs — 10 earned — on 10 hits with four walks and six strikeouts.
The game marked the end of the high school careers for Courtney, Bryson Barbier, Tyler Hoffpauir and Case.
“These guys, almost all of them, have been starting three or four years,” Jensen said. “This is my fourth year here, three years as the head (coach). … They’re going to be missed.”
While the Eagles missed out on a state championship, Jensen said that he told his squad they had a good season, noting they won 27 games.
“That’s something to be proud of,” he said. “I don’t know Central Catholic history. I know there’s been teams that have won more, but that’s got to be up there.”