BATON ROUGE -- Sometimes a team just needs to get a stern talking-to for it to kick things into gear.
Despite leading by a run, that’s exactly what Denham Springs got Wednesday night after a lackluster first two innings.
“I don’t think we were mentally prepared for this game yet. Nobody was in it,” Denham Springs third baseman Noah Juan said. “We got our butts chewed after the 1st inning and everybody just kind of said we need to start getting into this.”
Whatever coach Mark Carroll said to his players, it worked because the Yellow Jackets found their rhythm on the way to an 11-6 win against Episcopal in Metro League play.
Juan said the slow starts are nothing unusual for the summer games, but it certainly isn’t something Denham Springs wants to make a habit of.
Juan, a junior, had no trouble starting off fast with his 3-for-3 night at the plate with two runs scored, an RBI and a lead-off double in the 7th that sparked a six-run inning to seal the victory.
“The bats started clicking after the 4th inning, we started getting hits and lit it up,” Juan said. “Then the lead-off hit I had in that last inning boosted everybody’s confidence. Then everybody just started playing along with it, going with the flow after that.”
If only everyone hit at a similar clip, the Yellow Jackets wouldn’t have needed two late rallies to regain the lead.
After taking the early advantage on a RBI-single from Matt Delaney off the left-field wall that scored Juan in the 1st, Episcopal pitcher Christian Clayson settled down to keep DSHS off the board for the next three frames.
Episcopal put together a five-run rally of its own in the 4th thanks to three costly DSHS errors that ended the night for starter Josh Preston, despite only allowing three hits.
It wasn’t until Clayson came off the mound before the start of the 5th that the wheels fell off for the host Knights, opening the door for the comeback.
As has been a primary focus for DSHS this summer, its batters tried getting on base any way possible, whether that be with a walk or getting hit in the batter’s box.
In the long 7th inning and the three-run 6th proceeding it, the Yellow Jackets drew five walks and were three hit by pitches.
Dalton Diez replaced Preston to finish the game, limiting Episcopal to one run on three hits after the 4th.
“We talk about walks and errors all the time and how it opens up the big innings,” Carroll said. “It did for them and it did for us in those last two. They walked us and plunked us a few times and had some guys wear some pitches to get on base and base hits to follow that. That’s how you have big innings.”