DENHAM SPRINGS – Denham Springs’ Dalton Diez won the pitcher’s duel against Live Oak’s Branson McCoy and gave his team a much-needed district 4-5A win Saturday afternoon.
The Yellow Jackets won 1-0 behind McCoy’s complete game shutout where he allowed six hits and two walks while striking out a pair.
“It’s big,” Diez said. “Now I have the confidence knowing that I can go out there and throw a full seven innings. My defense was great. You get just one error behind you and you’re going to win some games. I’m so excited, that was awesome.”
“He just competed, you know?” Denham Springs coach Mark Carroll said. “He didn’t give up a lot of free bases, we always talk about that. We made a few plays behind him here and there, but he stayed around the zone and made them swing. The percentages worked out for us.”
McCoy was equally solid for Live Oak. He pitched 5.1 innings, allowed an unearned run off three hits, walked four and struck out four.
“Both pitchers did a good job,” Live Oak coach Jesse Cassard said.
Denham Springs (14-13, 4-4 district 4-5A) broke the scoreless deadlock in the third inning when Reese Smith led off with a double to center field. The Eagles nearly worked around the hit, but a two-out ground ball from Tristian Duhe took a bounce off shortstop Rhett Rosevear’s leg and allowed the run to score.
Live Oak (22-9, 5-3), which is now in a second-place tie with Walker (10-18, 5-3) behind Zachary (22-8, 5-2), had a golden opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the sixth. Brant Smith reached on an error to start the inning but was picked off at first.
The Eagles then picked up back-to-back singles from Lane Hutchinson and Kody Guidry. Sal Palermo laid down a bunt with one out and with nobody covering first, advanced the runners and reached safely without a throw.
However, Hutchinson rounded third a little too wide and Diez was able to get the ball to the bag before Hutchinson could double back. With two outs, Colin Martin grounded out to short to end Live Oak’s scoring threat.
“Those two (outs) killed us,” Cassard said. “I believe if we don’t get picked off and don’t overrun third, it’s hard to not win the game. It’s on us. We kept going and we didn’t give in, but it is deflating.”
After surviving the scare, Diez came back out in the top of the seventh to finish what he started. A leadoff walk brought the go-ahead run to the plate, but Diez responded by picking up three straight outs to lock up the shutout.
“We had a guy prepared to come in if he struggled,” Carroll said. “But the main thing was talking to him, he wanted to go back out. His pitch count wasn’t out of whack and he wanted the ball. You want your pitchers to come out and get after them the last inning.”
Said Diez: “Live Oak got us good the first time, we were looking to bounce back. And we did in a big way, that was a big win for us.”
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