Battle of unbeaten titans, nationally ranked Bucs in showdown with Broncos

Published 10:00 am Thursday, March 16, 2023

In the last two seasons, Sam Houston has handed Barbe its first loss. This time both teams enter today’s District 3-5A showdown undefeated.

Barbe is No. 1 in the most recent Collegiate Baseball Newspaper high school poll and No. 5 by, while both are in the top 10 in Prep Baseball Reports’ Southeast region poll, and loaded with college-bound players.

“What a great thing for the community to come out and support us the next two games,” Barbe head coach Glenn Cecchini said. “I think the three top programs in the state year in and year out are Sam Houston and Sulphur.

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“It is something to be very proud of. It is going to be a great game. It is always really competitive.”

Today’s game will be at Sam Houston at 6 p.m., while the second game will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday at McMurry Park in Sulphur while the Bucs’ home field is undergoing major upgrades.

The teams have split eight regular-season games since 2018, while the Bucs (18-0, 2-0) won both postseason meetings, the 2019 Class 5A finals plus an 11-inning thriller in the 2021 semifinals.

“It is the No. 1 team in the country,” Sam Houston head coach Chad Hebert said. “It is always a good time.

“I went and watched them a few times. They are a typical Barbe team. They pitch really well. They have some talented guys in the lineup. You just have to play clean baseball.”

Sam Houston (14-0, 4-0) has managed an undefeated start despite being without several key players most of that time, including Griffin Hebert (torn ligament), Dillon Bell (broken hand), Nick Toups (shoulder tightness) and Cooper Smith (back injury), Hebert said.

“We have just kind of been figuring it out, doing what we do and finding ways to win games,” Hebert said. “There have been times when we had to use different phases of the game.

“Against Lutcher we bunted six times in an inning. Against Mandeville we bunted six times in an inning. We have had games where we stole eight or nine bases. They have just bought into what we do, and we are really good at what we do.”

For the Bucs, Cecchini said the key has been their pitching staff which has allowed 13 runs in 18 games led by Landon Victorian and J.C. Vanek, plus Grant Trahan and Seth Hebert who combined for a no-hitter Tuesday in a win over Carencro.

“Even for our standards we are doing some special things,” Cecchini said. “(Victorian) has lost one game at Barbe in three years. He has been our No. 1 guy, and Vanek has been doing great. They are all pitching great.”