Barbe outfielder Nick Abshire . (Rick Hickman /American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, May 05, 2014 10:25 AMThe window of opportunity to take down the top-ranked team in the state — and in some eyes, the nation — is not very big, and does not stay open long.
Sulphur had a fleeting glimpse at one of those opportunities on Friday night, but Gunner Leger and the rest of the Bucs shut it quickly in Game 1 of their best-of-3 regional series.
Barbe pulled away from the Tors in the fourth inning of an 8-1 win, and will try to win its 24th straight and advance to the Class 5A quarterfinals when the teams meet again at 1 p.m. today.
“They understand they’re playing for this Barbe community and everyone who has played here before and try doing something that’s never been done,” said Bucs coach Glenn Cecchini. “That’s pretty cool. But we have to take it one game at a time. The main thing right now is we have to beat Sulphur (today).”
Tors coach Jason Trahan kept the message positive for his team, which would have seen its season end if not for this year’s format change in the regional and quarterfinal rounds.
“We don’t need to talk about this one too much,” Trahan said. “We just need to go ahead and get ready for tomorrow. That’s pretty much the message. There is a positive. We have our No. 1 on the mound and hopefully we can even the series up and see what happens.”
Sulphur will throw ace Kale Breaux in Game 2.
The Tors had a shot at making things interesting on Friday when Leger ran into a fit of wildness on the mound in the fourth inning. His two-out, bases-loaded walk of Austin Cholley scored a Sulphur run that cut Barbe’s lead to 2-1 and prompted Cecchini to go out to have a chat with his starter.
“I told him, ‘Don’t try to make the perfect pitch. Attack!’” Cecchini said. “If I said that once, I said it 100 times.”
Leger got Hayden Lejeune to swing at the first pitch after the conference, which was popped up to third to end the inning.
“When we get an opportunity like that in a game like this, we’ve got to hit one in the gap or down the line and clear the bases,” Trahan said. “(Lejeune) did not swing at a bad pitch. It was a good one. He just barely missed it. Nobody was upset at him for that.”
Leger would go on to retire the last nine Tors he faced in order to finish the game.
He also helped himself on offense, ringing a two-run double that scored Beau and Bryce Jordan to break the game open in the bottom of the fourth.
Beau Jordan put the cherry on top with a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth that provided the final margin.
The bottom of the Barbe order proved just as problematic for the Sulphur pitching staff to handle as the heart. Barbe No. 9 hitter Braden Comeaux was 3-for-3 and scored three runs.
“There’s no one guy where you think, ‘If we can get to this guy, we’re going to be OK,’” Trahan said. “It’s 1-though-9. They did it with the sticks and threw more punches than we did.”