Sam Houston falls to Zachary in Class 5A semifinal

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

NEW ORLEANS — Sam Houston was undone by the bunt, giving up three hits and committing an error on another as Zachary beat

the Broncos 4-1 Saturday in a Class 5A semifinal.

Zachary advanced to play Catholic-Baton Rouge, a 3-1 winner over West Monroe, in today’s championship game.

Trailing 1-0, Zachary (26-11) scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning. Kyle Vince singled to left to lead off the

inning and Ethan Troth followed with a bunt single. The next batter, Evan Pace laid down another bunt down the third-base

line that resulted in a throwing error that allowed the tying run to score.

After a popout, Daniel Hodges reached

on a safety squeeze bunt, scoring Troth to make the score 2-1. Stephen

Babin then drilled

a long fly ball into the right-center field alley that Broncos

outfielder Tanner Helms ran down and caught for the out, but

Pace tagged up at second and went all the around to score,

narrowly beating the tag at the plate.

Sam Houston (26-10) head coach Brad Book twice left the dugout to argue close calls, first on the Troth bunt hit, then again

on the play at the plate.

“I thought (starting pitcher Kameron

Esthay) did a great job, scattering out hits, competing,” Book said. “I

really think

we did some things defensively well today, but our bunt defense

was atrocious today. It was fielding it and not throwing it

to first base. It was not crashing, it was not covering from

second base. I felt we got (Troth) out at first base but the

umpire disagreed with that. That was a great bunt, but the other

bunts, we didn’t cover first, we didn’t crash from first

early in the game.

“It has been a problem for us at times,

not to the whole collapse that we had. There were some inexcusable

mistakes that we

made today, things that guys would not let slip that did — being

late on coverage and being late to charge. It was tough on

us because we had a kid who had not played first base all year out

there because (first baseman/pitcher) Peyton McLemore is

dealing with some problems with his knee. He is having a hard time

planting, moving and swinging.”

Zachary added an insurance run in the sixth when Mason Foote delivered a pinch-hit, bases-loaded single. Sam Houston reliever

Austin Gordon forced a double play to end the inning.

Zachary reliever Trent Crowder pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn the save. Starter Evan Tidwell allowed four

hits and one run in five innings.

Cliff Reid led off the game with a

single, moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on a throwing error

and scored on a fielding

error on a Blake Perrodin ground ball.

“I thought we put good cuts on him early in the game,” Book said.

“I felt like, the first inning, it was

going to be a game where we hit some hard ground balls,” Book said. “The

second inning,

we hit some line drives that were caught. I thought we were going

to be fine, then he started establishing his breaking ball

better and it gave him a much better chance. He did a great job.

Once he found the breaker, he had a plan.”

Zachary generated plenty of traffic with seven base runners over the first four innings, including three that reached third

base.

However, Sam Houston catcher Andrew Bryan picked off a runner at third to end the second inning and another was thrown out

attempting to advance on a grounder to Esthay in he fourth.

Andrew Weber and Troth had three hits each to lead Zachary. Reid had two hits for Sam Houston.

Book said reaching the tournament was a landmark occasion for the program.

“To make it here, in our second year in 5A, to make it to the state tournament, to make it to the semis I think is a huge

stepping stone for us that these kids were able to do for us,” he said.

“In order to come here and win it, you

have to keep coming here. I think that has been said a thousand times by

a thousand

people, but that is the main thing. You kind of break down that

barrier coming here, you get to see the sights, the smells,

the sounds and the intensity of what you have to do when you get

here.”