LIVINGSTON – At the very least, Doyle’s Class 2A quarterfinal series should prepare the Tigers for what they’ll face on their remaining playoff journey.
Brock Adams hurled a five-hitter, and Tyson Stewart had a run-scoring double to highlight the Tigers’ 3-2 win over Avoyelles Public Charter on Friday at Johnny Sartwell Park, which punched Doyle’s ticket to the Class 2A state tournament next week at McMurray Park in Sulphur.
“It’s just a grind,” said Doyle coach Tim Beatty, whose No. 2-seeded Tigers will face No. 3 Welsh in the semifinals Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on Field 40. “You get to this point and everybody’s good. I think just the jitters of being in the playoffs has got us playing not to our standards and the way we want to play. One thing I like about this group was that they really pulled for each other today. It was a team effort.
“I’m just excited for our guys and ecstatic for our program right now.”
Welsh scored a 2-1 series win over No. 6 Many. The teams split the first two games of the series Friday before Welsh scored a 21-4 win Saturday.
Doyle, which played as the visiting team in the game, padded a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning after Braden Keen was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on Stewart’s double to left-center.
“We were up one when we did that,” Stewart said of the hit, while noting he was hoping the Tigers could make things easier on Adams with some run support. “But that’s not enough for Brock. That’s just too much pressure for him. I thought maybe if we put one more run in, it would be better for him.
“We’re going to put some more work in Sunday. Hopefully we get back (to hitting better), because we’re going to need to in the semifinals.”
Both teams went down in order in their next at-bats, and Adams ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth.
Avoyelles Public Charter's Luke Rousseau walked, Spencer Coco singled and Trey Knoll was hit by a pitch with one out to load the bases, setting up Brennan Cochran’s single to right field to cut the lead to 3-2.
From there, Adams got Tyler Lacombe to fly out to shallow right field, where Doyle second baseman Keen came racing into to make the catch for the out. Adams then struck out Seth Rousseau swinging to end the inning.
“I kept my composure and trusted my defense to make a play – pitch for contact instead of trying to blow it by them,” said Adams, who gave up five hits, three walks and struck out three in six innings to get the win.
Keen got a two-out single in the top of the seventh, but the Tigers were unable to capitalize, allowing Hunter Mizell to come in and retire the side in the bottom of the inning, striking out Rousseau swinging to end the game.
“He showed us last Saturday what he’s capable of,” Beatty said of Mizell. “So after the sixth inning, Brock came to us and he looked a little worn out. It was hot, and we haven’t played in these conditions.
“He came to us, hat’s off to him. He didn’t say ‘I want it in the seventh.’ He said, ‘Coach, I’m done.’ I said, ‘That’s fine. We’ve got Hunter Mizell in the pen ready to go.’ And he was. He came out there and threw lights out.”
Doyle got the game’s first run in the top of the first when Mason Davis walked, Cade Watts was hit by a pitch, and with one out, Stewart was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Braden McLin’s sacrifice fly to right field made the score 1-0 before Cole Mack flied out to center to end the inning.
The Vikings came back in the bottom of the inning as Jackson Ragusa walked, moved to third on Noah Deshotel’s single to right field and scored on an error on an attempted pickoff play at first.
Doyle turned a 5-4-3 double play, and Adams got a grounder to short to end the inning.
“I didn’t have my stuff early,” Adams said. “The umpire wasn’t giving me much, but I found a way to get through it, and I knew I needed it because we’ve got to get a big breakthrough right before we go to state.”
The Tigers added to the lead in the third as Watts legged out a one-out single, moved to second on a wild pitch, to third when Keen reached on an error at shortstop and scored on Stewart’s sacrifice fly to center.
Both teams stranded seven runners, with the Vikings leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the third and Doyle doing the same in the top of the fourth.
“Runners that we left (and) timely hitting,” Beatty said. “It’s just tough to come by when you’re this deep in the playoffs, I think. Timely hits are even harder. I think we can do it. I think we’ve just got to be a little more mentally prepared but get it done. Hopefully we can get a few more hits.”
Deshotel gave up three hits, three walks and struck out one in six innings to take the loss. Ragusa gave up a hit and struck out one in an inning of relief.
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