The Airline Vikings and Benton Tigers cruised into the second round of the LHSAA baseball playoffs Tuesday evening.
The No. 3 seed Vikings defeated No. 30 Central Lafourche 7-0 in a Class 5A game at Airline. The No. 6 seed Tigers downed No. 27 Franklin Parish 6-1 in a Class 4A game at Benton.
Airline (27-4) will host No. 19 Chalmette (22-9), which defeated No. 14 John Curtis 8-4 Monday, in the best-of-3 second round series Friday and Saturday.
Benton (18-11) will host No. 11 Crowley (18-8), which defeated No. 22 Morgan City 8-7 in nine innings Tuesday, in the best-of-3 second round series Friday and Saturday.
At Airline, Vikings left-hander Kyle Backofen allowed just two hits in six innings and struck out eight.
Cameron Parikh, who pitched the final inning, went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Peyton Davis had two hits, including a double, and two RBI. Chase Hodges had an RBI triple.
Airline scored its first run in the bottom of the third. Parikh doubled to left field, advanced to third on Hayden Waxley’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Davis’ two-out single to left field.
The Vikings added three in the fourth. Josh James reached on a bunt. Hunter Hollis, running for James, scored on Hodges’ triple to center field.
Cameron Taylor bunted safely and advanced to second on a passed ball. Parikh singled to right field, scoring Hodges and Taylor to make it 4-0.
The Vikings scored three more in the sixth, all coming with two outs. Waxley walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Jonathan Brandon’s single.
Davis doubled to left field, scoring Brandon to make it 6-0. Jarrett Bamburg’s single brought home pinch runner Trey Daniel.
Backofen allowed baserunners only in the second and third innings. He set the Trojans down in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
At Benton, the Tigers’ Tanner Craft pitched a two-hitter. Cody Norris went 3-for-3 with two doubles. Wade Grubbs went 3-for-3 with a double and RBI. Sam Simmons had two hits and an RBI. Conner Jack Smith had a two-RBI double.
Garrett Hable and Coleman Nerren also had doubles as the Tigers totalled 11 hits.
Benton got off to a strong start with two runs in the first and one in the second.
Grubbs led off the bottom of the first with a double to left field. He was sacrificed to third by Craft and scored on Simmons’ two-out single to left field. Smith followed that with a double to center field to make it 2-0.
Nerren led off the second with a double to center field. Norris bunted safely, advancing Nerren to third. The Patriots turned a double play, but Nerren scored for a 3-0 lead.
The Tigers picked up a run in the fourth. Norris hit a one-out double, advanced to third on Austin Beck’s groundout and scored on a Grubbs’ bunt to third.
Benton made it 5-0 in the fifth. Simmons singled with one out, stole second and third and scored on Smith’s sacrifice fly.
Franklin Parish got on the board in the sixth with some help from the Tigers, who committed two errors. But Benton made up for them with a double play and a ground out out to end the inning.
Norris led off the sixth with a double to center field. After back-to-back walks and a line drive out, Legend Denler scored on an error.
The Patriots put runners on base in only the second, third and sixth against Craft. No runner made it past second in the second and third.
NOTE: The above report is based on box scores and play-by-plays on the teams’ official GameChanger accounts.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org