Morgan pays dividends, pitches St. Louis into final

Rodrick Anderson

SULPHUR — Senior Parker Morgan turned in one final stellar performance on the mound for No. 2 St. Louis Catholic in the Division II semifinals Thursday, holding No. 3 Vandebilt Catholic in check in a 4-1 win to send the Saints to the final for the first time since 2017.

Morgan went 62/3 innings in his final start while holding the Terriers to two hits with six strikeouts and three walks.

“I can’t ask for a better way to go out,” Morgan said. “It was a great game.

“Hats off to Vandebilt. They played a great game, and they are a really good team. Coach (Nick) Buck, the pitching coach, was really pounding inside fastball. They really couldn’t catch up to it sometimes. When they would, I would go changeup away, and they would be off balance. (Buck) really knew what to call in the right situations.”

St. Louis head coach Matt Fontenot said he didn’t think twice about starting his senior ace in the semifinals.

“You have to get there,” Fontenot said about the championship game. “I would say probably half a second it crossed my mind. Obviously it depends on how the game goes offensively, but Parker gave us the chance to win, and Chase (Wilson) closed it out.

“We expected it to be close. Their guy (Owen Schexnayder) is good, and they are a well-coached team. We expected to have to battle at the plate, and Parker to be able to do the same on the mound, and we came out on top.”

Schexnayder went the distance for the Terriers (29-7), holding the Saints to three hits with nine strikeouts and no walks.

The Saints (24-12) will play the winner of No. 1 Parkview and No. 5 Teurlings Catholic in the championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Saints are looking for the first state championship since 2011.

Morgan, a Nicholls State signee, retired five of the final six batters he faced before handing the ball over to Wilson, who needed two pitches to get the final out and earn the save.

After giving up an unearned run in the first inning, Parker allowed one runner beyond second when the Terriers loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning but got a groundout to end the threat.

“Morgan) is the ultimate competitor,” Fontenot said. “For four years he has been on the mound and has been a competitor.

“I am excited to see what he can do next year at Nicholls. (Wilson) is a competitor as well. He really didn’t pitch all that much until I got here two years ago. He has worked and developed on the mound.”

Eli David drove in the Terriers’ lone run on a single to left field in the first inning, but the Saints rebounded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Evan Joubert scored on a passed ball after opening the game with a leadoff single, and James Reina scored the go-ahead run on a ground out by Reid Snider.

“You start out and you don’t know exactly what to expect and how we will handle that moment,” Fontenot said. “But it was good to see. We have been there before.

“We have played in some big games this year. They didn’t flinch, got the lead back, and never gave it up.”

The Saints added single runs in the fourth and sixth innings on a double by Aidan Welsh and a sacrifice fly from Thomas Watson.

””

St. Louis Catholic’s Parker Morgan pitches against Vandebilt Catholic during a Division II semifinal game at the state baseball tournament Thursday at McMurry Park in Sulphur.

Rick Hickman / American Press””

St. Louis Catholic’s Brooks Habetz gets past the tag attempt of Vandebilt Catholic catcher Eli David for a run during a Division II semifinal game at the state baseball tournament Thursday at McMurry Park in Sulphur.

Rick Hickman / American Press

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