Byrd ends Airline’s outstanding season

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For the Airline Vikings, it was a brutal ending to a fantastic season.

Needing one win to advance to the Class 5A semifinals for the first time since 2008, the No. 3 seeded Vikings were swept by the No. 11 Byrd Yellow Jackets 10-4 and 9-1 on Saturday at Airline.

The Jackets (24-11) took the best-of-3 series two games to one and advanced to the state tournament next week in Sulphur where they will play No. 15 Acadiana in the semifinals.

The Vikings, who won Game 1 8-4 Friday night, were knocked out the playoffs by their District 1-5A rival for the second year in a row. Byrd won 8-6 in the single-game first round last year.

Airline closed one of the best seasons in school history at 30-6. The Vikings won their third straight District 1-5A title, finishing two games ahead of runner-up Byrd. They swept the Jackets during the regular season 5-3 and 9-1.

Airline has won 72 games the last three years with this season’s seniors contributing to the bulk of those wins.

The senior starters were Kyle Backofen, Hayden Waxley, Peyton Davis, Jarrett Bamburg, Austin Zickefoose and Cameron Taylor. Seniors backups were Trey Daniel, Daniel Gould, Levi Holder, Adam Armstrong, Matt Brown and Conner Jones.

But Saturday was Byrd’s day.

In Game 1, Airline’s Peyton Davis hit a solo home run over the left-field wall in the third inning and the game was tied at 2 through 2.5.

The wheels came off in the bottom of the fourth as the Jackets put five on the board.

Two errors, three consecutive singles and a sacrifice fly led to three Byrd runs. Then Zavier Moore drove a pitch over the center field wall. The two-run homer made it 7-2.

Airline cut it to four in the top of the fifth. Josh James had a one-out triple. Hunter Hollis, running for James, scored on Taylor’s single.

Byrd added two in the fifth thanks to a walk, triple and double to make it 9-3. The Jackets scored their final run in the sixth.

Airline scored one on the top of the seventh. Waxley and Cameron Parikh had singles. Parikh scored on Davis’ sacrifice fly.

The game ended on a lineout by Bamburg.

Seven players accounted for Airline’s nine hits in the game. Taylor went 3-for-4.

Airline starter Parikh, who has had an outstanding season on the mound and at the plate, allowed eight hits in four innings. Byrd’s Jonathan Fincher allowed seven in 5 2/3 innings and walked nine.

The Vikings left 14 runners on base. They left the bases loaded in the first, fourth and sixth innings.

In the decisive Game 3, Byrd jumped on Airline early with a run in the first and three more in the second.

The Jackets blew the game open with five in the top of the fourth thanks mainly to three singles, a double and a walk.

The Vikings managed just five hits against Brennan Ertz. Two of those came in the seventh when Airline scored its only run. Zickefoose doubled and scored on Taylor’s two-out single.

Chase Hodges had a one-out double in the bottom of the second but the Vikings couldn’t take advantage of it.

Airline starter Taylor allowed six hits in four innings and just four earned runs. He struck out five and walked four. Waxley allowed two hits and no runs over the final three innings.

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com