They may not agree on a lot of things, like who’s the better athlete, but there’s no denying the special feeling Gannon and Edward Allison are enjoying with French Settlement’s baseball team that’s headed to Kinder for a best-of-3 Class 2A state quarterfinal series.
The Lions (15-14) are trying to advance to their first Class 2A state tournament in school history. They last reached the state tournament in Class B in 2007.
No. 13 French Settlement opens play at No. 5 Kinder at 6 p.m. Friday with a doubleheader beginning at 6 p.m. A third game, if necessary, would follow at noon on Saturday.
“I’m ready, it’s going to be a fun matchup,” Gannon Allison said. “As a five seed, they’re a really good team. We’re coming off with a lot of momentum after beating the four seed (DeQuincy). I’m really looking forward to this series.”
Said Edward Allison, “It’s pretty good. It’s my first time going deep in the playoffs.”
The Allison brothers had quite an impact on helping French Settlement secure a 2-1 series upset over fourth-seeded DeQuincy, which handed the Lions a 10-2 loss in last Friday’s opener.
A day later, the Lions (15-14) responded with a doubleheader sweep – the first time this season they won two games in the same day - with a 12-3 victory behind Brice Fruge’s three-hit pitching effort.
Gannon, a junior utility player, got the start in the third, pitching 5.2 innings where he allowed two runs on six hits with four strikeouts in a 10-3 victory.
Younger brother Edward, a freshman left fielder, enjoyed a breakthrough offensive moment with a team-high five RBIs, including a two-run double in the third for a 2-0 lead.
“I was ready,” Gannon Allison said of his Game 3 start. “I wanted that game very bad. I knew after we won the second game, we had the momentum going into the third game. You could tell they were down, and we were as loud as we could be. It was fun to play in that game.”
Edward applauded his older brother’s effort on the mound which set the tone for the Lions.
“He really pounded the strike zone, got some easy outs,” he said. “We didn’t have as much pressure to hit knowing he was going to put up a goose egg every inning. He really boosted our confidence at the plate.”
French Settlement coach Jaime Gautreau believed the potential finality of the season became a driving force in his team’s play.
“They just didn’t want it to be their last game. After Friday, we were pretty low,” he said. “Before Saturday’s game I told them this was it. I told them to relax, have fun, be loose and let’s see what happens.”
The opportunity has been rare for the Allisons to be teammates, a novelty they enjoyed during the basketball season where Edward was the team’s starting point guard and Gannon a small forward.
Prior to this past school year, they were last members of the same tee-ball and coach-pitch teams.
“I’m the better athlete,” Gannon responded when asked about family bragging rights on the subject. “It’s fun to have him out there. It’s what we expected. I knew we may butt heads a little bit, but we’ve done a decent job of looking past that. We’re brothers, we’re going to have arguments.”
There’s no debating the place Gannon has on this year’s team, leading French Settlement in batting average (.348), on-base percentage (.561) and slugging percentage (.455). He also has seven doubles and 17 RBIs, to go along with a 3-3 record and 4.34 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 29 innings on the mound.
Edward counters with a .236 batting average, seven doubles and 18 RBIs.
Competition’s always been at the heart of their relationship, serving as a motivating factor the Allisons have fed off of whethers it’s been in the driveway at home, practice or in a game.
When told of Gannon’s claim of the being better athlete of the two, Edward immediately responded.
“I’m definitely a better athlete,” he said. “I’m not sure where he got that from. There’s always competition between us. When I see him doing well it makes me want to do even better, makes me want to do more and one up him. It’s been that way in every sport we’ve played growing up. “
There also times where that competitiveness lends itself to life-long memories.
Before the final game victory over DeQuincy in which they both played both roles, French Settlement found itself trying to salvage the final game of a District 10-2A series with Springfield just over three weeks ago.
The Lions, which dropped the first two games to the Bulldogs, had Gannon on the mound who took a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning where Springfield brought the potential tying run to the plate with a runner at second and two outs.
Edward decided to play back in an effort to take away the potential of a double against Springfield’s Collin Hayden, who instead hit the ball off the end of his bat.
Edward was still able to get a good jump on the ball, charging in for a diving, game-ending catch that resulted quite a celebration, one that included an unforgettable embrace amongst brothers.
“We were celebrating,” Gannon said. “I was excited and happy for him (Edward). It was a great time.”
Said Edward, “I was extremely happy for him that I could make the catch to end the game. He was definitely the happiest person in the ball park. I remember him picking me up saying, ‘that’s my brother, that’s my brother’. He was extremely happy for me.”
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