Facing elimination, the No. 1 seed Benton Tigers came out and took care of business Saturday.
Benton swept No. 17 Belle Chasse 8-0 and 10-1 to win the best-of-three Class 4A second-round series two games to one in Benton. The Tigers (31-7) will host No. 8 Neville (21-15), which swept No. 8 Lakeshore 4-3 and 14-2, in a best-of-three quarterfinal series next Friday and Saturday.
Benton, which won its fifth straight District 1-4A title, has had its season ended in the quarterfinals the last four years.
Benton is the only Bossier Parish team left in the playoffs. The Airline Vikings and Haughton Bucs both forced decisive Game 3s in the second round of Class 5A on Saturday, but both came up short.
Airline, the No. 12 seed, defeated No. 5 Zachary 5-3 to even their series and then lost Game 3 8-2 in Zachary. The Vikings, who won their fourth straight District 1-5A title, closed the season 23-14.
Haughton, the No. 31 seed, defeated No. 18 Denham Springs 3-2 to even the series and then fell 7-2 in the decider in Denham Springs. The Bucs, who shocked No. 2 seed and three-time defending state champion Barbe in the first round, finished the season 18-20.
After losing Game 1 5-3 Friday night, Benton faced a must-win situation in Game 2. The game was a nailbiter until the seventh inning. The Tigers were officially the visiting team. They led 1-0 after six and then put seven on the board in the top of the seventh.
With the way ace Will Hine was pitching, though, one run would’ve been enough. Hine (9-1) pitched a three-hitter with just one walk. He wasn’t overpowering with just three strikeouts, but he induced eight groundouts and seven flyouts.
Garrett Hable led the Tigers at the plate, going 3-for-3. Cole Horton had two hits, including a double, and two RBI. Sam Simmons went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Kade Scott went 2-for-3 with a double. Coleman Nerren had two hits and an RBI. Peyton Long had a two-RBI double.
Connor Jack Smith scored when Horton grounded into a double play in the third. Smith led off the inning with a single, stole second and advanced to third on an error.
That’s the way it stood until the seventh. Hable, Simmons and Nerren had singles in the inning. Long’s double scored two runs and made it 8-0.
Benton carried the momentum into the decisive Game 3. The Tigers led 6-0 after three with a run in the first, two in the second and three in the third. Benton scored in every inning.
Cameron Ross pitched a four-hitter with five strikeouts and three walks.
Nerren smacked three doubles and scored three runs. He also walked once. Simmons went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer in the sixth to make it 10-1. Cody Norris had two hits, including a double.
Hal Gatti smacked a two-run homer in the third, putting the Tigers ahead 5-0. Scott doubled and drove in two runs.
At Denham Springs, Nick Heckman pitched a complete game in Game 2, allowing seven hits and striking out five with one walk.
The Bucs, who lost Game 1 Friday 1-0, got just three hits but it was enough. After the Yellow Jackets took a 1-0 lead, Haughton scored two in the bottom of the inning without a hit.
Sam Herren led off with a walk and advanced to third on an error on Austin Clemmens’ bunt attempt. He scored on Jonathan Plant’s sacrifice fly. Clemmens then scored on an error.
After Denham Springs tied it in the third, Haughton took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth. CJ McWilliams’ single scored Cameron Townsend, who had reached on an error.
Heckman sat the Yellow Jackets down in order in the fifth and sixth. Denham Springs loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Heckman got a groundout to end the game.
Jathon Patton went 2-for-3 with a double.
The Bucs scored two runs in the top of the the third to take a 2-0 lead in Game 3, but the Yellow Jackets took the lead for good with four runs on three hits in the bottom of the inning.
Lake Lowery led off Haughton’s third with a triple and scored on a two-out error on Patton’s fly ball to center field.
Lowery’s triple was the only hit allowed by Denham Springs’ Cade Doughty, a sophomore who has already committed to LSU. Doughty plays shortstop when he’s not pitching.
At Zachary, Airline senior ace Cameron Parikh gave up only five hits in the Game 2 win. He also had a double.
Hunter Hollis went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Jonathan Brandon went 2-for-4. Cole Broadway singled and drove in two runs. Peyton Jordan also had a single and two RBI. Bryson Connell and Hunter Nycum also singled as Airline pounded out 10 hits.
The Vikings, who lost Game 1 Friday 13-3, got down early in Game 3 as the Broncos took a 3-0 lead after one. Zachary added a run in the fourth and then scored two in the fifth and two in the sixth.
Parikh helped Airline avoid a shutout with a two-RBI double in the seventh.
The Broncos got a complete game out of Robert Burke, who allowed six hits. Burke is a Northwestern State signee.
Hollis went 2-for-3 with a double. Bryson Connell, a freshman and the Vikings starting pitcher, also went 2-for-3. Chase Hodges had a single.
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com