DENHAM SPRINGS –- For the two Livingston Parish participants in Friday’s Louisiana High School Coaches Association All-Star baseball game, the final score wasn’t as important as what the game meant to them in the grand scheme of things.
A win for the East squad was just a little something extra.
West Ouachita’s Austin Tidwell scored on an error in the top of the 9th to snap a 4-4 tie and lift the East to a 5-4 win at North Park.
"This is something I've been looking forward to all my high school career -- to just come out here and be with all the guys, the best players in the state," Denham Springs' Brock Batty said. "I'm friends with a lot of these guys ... (playing) at the home field I played at and having everybody together is just really fun. So I get to compete against the best in the state and see what you've got and have fun. Everybody's have a little fun. This is awesome."
The teams square off again at 10:15 a.m. Saturday to cap the two-game series.
"It's awesome," Live Oak catcher Preston Faulkner, who started for the East squad, but will miss Saturday's game to attend Live Oak's graduation, said. "We've all been playing together since we were little bitty, and to come out here and hang out with my guys, get invited to the all-star game, have a great time at the all-star game and be able to catch Brock and (East starter) Mikhail (Hilliard of Central) -- all the rivalries from district. Those are my boys. I love them to death like they were on my own team going to the same high school. It's amazing. I loved the experience."
Tidwell drew a two-out walk, and Destrehan’s Dane Simon reached on an error at short. From there, West Ouachita’s Dawson Huckaby reached on a throwing error at short, and Tidwell came around to score the winning run when the ball went to the fence at first base.
The West broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the 3rd when Julian Gonzales of St. Louis was hit by a pitch, moved to second and third on a pair of wild pitches and scored on another wild pitch for a 1-0 lead.
With one out, Batty came on to pitch in relief of East starter Mikkhail Hilliard of Central, and the West added another run on a throwing error for a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the 4th, Batty hit Sam Houston’s Chris Haggard and walked Brusly’s Connor Manola to start the inning. Matt Collins of Opelousas Catholic followed with an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.
Haggard's RBI single off Batty in the 5th pushed the lead to 4-0.
"My arm felt pretty live," said Batty, who have up two hits, three walks and struck out two in 2.2 innings of relief. "It's just (I was) a little out of touch with some pitches and stuff. I didn't throw bad. It's just (with) a few minor adjustments, I would have done a little better. I was getting under some stuff, but my arm felt really good tonight."
The East got on the board in the top of the 6th as Tidwell walked with one out, and Destrehan's Dane Simon singled to put runners at first and third. West Ouachita's Dawson Huckaby followed with an RBI grounder to third to make it 4-1 before Catholic's Will Ethridge struck out swinging to end the inning.
West Monroe's Austin Booth relieved Batty in the bottom of the 6th and retired the side in order, setting up a three-run rallly from the East in the top of the 7th.
Sterlington's Dalton Dopson walked, Jena's Parker Fink singled, and St. Michael's Dwain Varisco walked to load the bases for St. John's Dylan Hurst, who cut the lead to 4-2 on an RBI single up the middle.
West Monroe's Taylor Young grounded into a fielder's choice at shortstop to score another run to make it 4-3. Destrehan's Dane Simon had an RBI grounder to short to knot it at 4-4 before the East had a runner caught in a rundown between third and home for the final out of the inning.
"That's the with this game, at any moment we can bust (it) open," Batty said. "We have so much talent on these teams ... It was really fun."
The East had runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the 8th, but Central Catholic's Blake Hidalgo struck out Varisco to end the inning.
Booth, who pitched three scoreless innings in relief while giving up one hit and striking out six to get the win, retired the West in order in the bottom of the 8th to set up the game-winning rally.
"I threw a lot of off-speed, and it was mainly curveball, slider, change-up, and I got a lot of guys out with that," said Booth, who earned MVP honors in the game. "Me and (catcher) Dawson (Huckaby) were on the same page, and he threw them down I and I just threw them for a strike."
Ouachita Christian's Ty O'Neal retired the side in order, striking out Eunice's Gunner Fontenot to end the game and earn the save.
EAST 5, WEST 4
East 000 001 301 -- 5 6 2
West 002 110 000 -- 4 2 4
Will Hine, Gregory Leger (4), Hunter Meche (6), Blake Hidalgo (7) and Connor Manola, Tyler Thibodeaux (6). Mikhail Hilliard, Brock Batty (3), Austin Booth (6), Ty O'Neal (9) and Preston Faulkner, Dawson Huckaby (6). W -- Booth. L -- Hidalgo. Save -- O'Neal. Up next: Game 2 of series, Saturday, 10:15 a.m. at North Park