Extra suspense: Bucs best Broncos in classic duel

Warren Arceneaux

SULPHUR — Kyle DeBarge heard head coach Glenn Cecchini yell “Go!” and made a mad dash for home with the winning run in a thrilling 1-0, 11-inning victory for Barbe over district rival Sam Houston Thursday night in a Class 5A semifinal at the state baseball tournament.

Barbe advanced to play West Monroe in the championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday.

DeBarge took off for home after the throw to first on a Donovan LaSalle grounder, beating the throw home to cap a classic encounter that featured two total hits.

Barbe starter Jack Walker threw 10 no-hit innings, striking out 13. He was forced to leave after reaching the 115-pitch limit.

Gavin Guidry pitched a scoreless 11th to pick up the win.

Walker’s gem was his last time on the mound for the Bucs. The Mississippi State signee threw a complete game, nohit shutout in the first round and allowed three runs and six hits over 31 playoff innings pitched, striking out 40.

“It was definitely the best performance of my career,” Walker said. “I just wanted to go out there and give my team the best opportunity to win.”

Broncos starter Alex Norris was brilliant, allowing only a first-inning single to Guidry in 10 innings of work. The Broncos were excellent defensively, turning an inning-ending double play in the ninth and having catcher Ashton Fuselier end another inning with a caught stealing.

“It goes to show you who these guys are as a team,” Broncos head coach Chad Hebert said. “As good and gritty as (Norris) was, the guys behind him made plays to pick him up. There were a lot of good plays all night long, we just couldn’t get the big play when we needed to.”

On the game’s biggest play, DeBarge was holding at third until hearing Cecchini’s command.

He was hit by a pitch to lead off the 11th and went to third on a J.C. Vanek single to right.

“Right when it was hit I was like ‘Oh dang, I won’t be able to go,’ but then I heard Glenn in the back and said, ‘OK, I’m going to trust him. He’s the best coach in the nation.’”

DeBarge said moving to catcher has giving him a new perspective of how good Walker is.

“I told Jack after the game that it was fun playing third base behind him in 2019, but being his catcher was way more fun. He and Gavin are the two best in the state, pitching-wise. It’s insane.”””

Barbe’s Donovan LaSalle, left, and Grant Comeaux celebrate after the Bucs beat District 3-5A rival Sam Houston 1-0 in 11 innings in a Class 5A semifinal game at the state baseball tournament Thursday night at McMurry Park in Sulphur.

Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press

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