LHSAA STATE BASEBALL: Hornets look to finish the job
After making up 75 percent of the field at the last state tournament, Southwest Louisiana has just one entry in this year’s Class 1A final four, No. 2 seed Grand Lake.
The Hornets (21-2) will be making their fourth straight trip to the state tournament but have yet to take home the championship trophy, losing in the semifinals in 2018 and 2019 and the championship game in 2017.
That 2017 loss was to LaSalle, who will be Grand Lake’s opponent Tuesday night. The No. 6 Tigers (15-11) advanced with an 18-0 win over No. 3 Merryville in the quarterfinals.
The other semifinal will feature top seed Oak Grove (18-9) against No. 12 Slaughter Community Charter (9-10).
The Hornets have dominated playoff opponents with pitching and defense, allowing a total of two runs over two games. LaSalle has scored 23 runs over two games.
Hornets ace Devin David struck out 11 batters in five innings in Grand Lake’s 14-2 win over Oberlin in the quarterfinal round. Kade Massey led the offense with three hits and four RBI, including two doubles. Connor Guillotte had two hits, two RBI and three runs scored.
The Hornets have won 12 of their last 13 games.
Head coach Tyler Alton said the Hornets have a trio of pitching options.
“In addition to David, we have had a couple of other guys step up throughout the season,” he said. “David and Garrett Walker, they both throw a ton of strikes and keep you in the ball game because they don’t give up much. Massey is a bit different, he has a little more velocity and is a power pitcher.”
Alston said his team can win in a variety of ways.
“We know that we aren’t going to be able to score 10 runs every game, so it is good to know we have pitching that will keep us in the game anyway,” he said. “When you get to this point, you have to keep doing the things that have made you an exceptional team all year. For us, when we get bunts down and pitch well, we win games.”
LaSalle’s Beau Skinner pitched a complete game in the quarterfinal round, allowing five hits and four walks while striking out eight. He added two hits and two RBI at the plate. Blake Rogers had four hits and six RBI in the game. The Tigers had 17 hits in six innings.
Oak Grove enters with a seven-game winning streak and has outscored its two playoff opponents 41-0. Slaughter Community has beaten the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds to reach Sulphur and has scored 37 runs in three playoff games.
Alston said LaSalle has his full attention after their win at Merryville, which beat Grand Lake in the regular season.
“Obviously, we are familiar with Merryville and how well they play in the playoffs, they always peak at the right time and make it to Sulphur every year,” he said. “For LaSalle to still be playing now, you know they are an impressive team.”
The Grand Lake Hornets meet at the mound to discuss strategy in a nondistrict game April 9 against Highland Baptist. The Hornets take on LaSalle in the Class 1A semifinals Tuesday.
Grand Lake’s Garret Walker applies the tag for the out as Highland Baptist’s Adian McCown attempts to steal second base during a nondistrict game at Grand Lake High School April 9.