Saints take Game 1 in rout

Published 8:16 am Friday, May 6, 2022

With production from top to bottom in the lineup, No. 2 St. Louis walked away with an 11-2 win over No. 10 De La Salle to open its best-of-three Division II quarterfinals series Thursday night at McMurry Park.

All nine Saints starters had either an RBI or scored a run. Juniors James Reina and Gavin Phillips and sophomore Kennedy Leggett led the way with two hits each. Reina had two RBIs, Leggett hit an RBI double in the fifth and Phillips scored a run and stole two bases.

“I thought we finally settled in,” St. Louis head coach Matt Fontenot said. “We had good at-bats throughout the whole game.

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“Their first pitcher is pretty good. He is their ace. That is what you see in the playoffs, but I thought we beared down, had good at-bats the whole game and just chipped away until we finally broke it loose there at the end.”

The Saints (22-12) broke open a 6-2 game when they batted around in the fifth inning to score four runs highlighted by Reid Snider’s three-RBI double.

Game two starts at 4 p.m. today. A Saints win would send the defending state champs back to the state tournament for a second consecutive season. If necessary, a third game will be played at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“This is playoff baseball,” Fontenot said. “They are going to come ready to play and we have to do the same.”

The Saints were aggressive on the bases with 10 steals. KeMonni Pullard led with three steals.

“We steal about five bases a game, so that is something that we try to be pretty active with,” Fontenot said. “We are capable up and down the lineup to steal that many bags every game.”

The Saints got a huge defensive play from left fielder Blake Evans. With two outs in the top of the first inning, the Cavaliers’ Julian Pomar hit a liner to left. Manny Taveras rounded third looking to give De La Salle (18-11) the early lead, but Evans’ throw to catcher Jake Larocca was on the money.

Senior pitcher Luke Courville went four innings to earn his fifth win in his last six starts. Courville allowed two runs on four hits with six strikeouts and four walks. Hank Milligan pitched two scoreless innings in relief, and Blake Reed retired the side in the seventh with a ground out and two strikeouts.

“(Courville) is going to compete for you every time,” Fontenot said. “He is not going to get hit hard and is going to give you a chance to win every time.”