An outstanding performance by pitcher Andrew McPherson and a Cade Scott walk-off double in bottom of the seventh inning lifted the Benton Tigers to a 3-2 victory over the Pearl River Rebels in the first round of the Class 4A baseball playoffs Tuesday evening at Benton.
The No. 9 seed Tigers (23-12) will visit No. 8 Belle Chasse (24-9), a 4-3 winner over No. 25 Morgan City on Monday, in the best-of-three second-round series. Game one is Friday at 6 p.m., and game two is Saturday at 11 a.m. Game three, if necessary, will be played at 3 Saturday.
In a Class 5A first-round game, No. 27 Airline almost pulled a major upset, rallying to tie No. 6 Sulphur in the top of the seventh. But the Tors scored a run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to win it 6-5.
The Vikings finished 14-20.
In another Class 5A first-round game, the No. 18 seed Haughton Buccaneers fell to No. 15 Lafayette 8-4 on the road. The Bucs finished 18-16.
At Benton, Clint Lasiter led off the bottom of the seventh and got hit by a pitch with a 1-2 count. Scott then stepped in the box and laced a line drive to left field. Lasiter came all the around to score.
The hit was Scott’s second in the game. Sam Simmons went 2-for-2. Cody Norris doubled.
McPherson pitched a three-hitter, allowing one earned run while striking out 15 and walking four. McPherson threw 122 pitches and 72 of those were strikes. He struck out the side in the first, third and sixth.
Benton had to rally for the victory. Pearl River took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second on a single, hit-by-pitch and double.
The Tigers put one on the board in the bottom of the inning. Brennan Blaylock singled with one out but was picked off first. Simmons then smacked a two-out double to center field. JT Brice brought him home with a single to right field.
Benton tied it in the fourth. Garrett Hable led off with a single and advanced to second on Blaylock’s sacrifice bunt. Simmons lined a single to center field, scoring Hable.
Benton couldn’t capitalize on a few other scoring opportunities, including Norris’ double in the first. The Tigers left the bases loaded in the fifth.
Thanks to a pair of walks, the Rebels put runners on first and second with one out in the fourth. But McPherson got a flyout and a strikeout to end the threat.
Pearl River (15-13) put two runners aboard with two outs in the fifth on an error and a walk. McPherson got a popup for the final out.
The Rebels threatened again in the top of the seventh. The Rebels got a one-out single and stolen base, but McPherson picked the runner off second. After issuing a walk, he struck out the next batter.
At Sulphur, the Vikings scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to tie it at 5.
Hayden Travinski singled with one out. Jerry Couch reached on an error. He advanced to second and Travinski reached third. Bryson Connell scored both on a line-drive single to left field.
Sulphur (26-9) got a single in the bottom of the inning but couldn’t advance the runner.
The Vikings couldn’t get anything going in the top of the eighth.
Connor Cooke led off the bottom of the inning with a single, but catcher Connell threw him out trying to steal second. Ben Broussard walked and Nick Valette was intentionally walked. Devon Lebrun then walked to load the bases.
Hayden Stutes brought home the winning run with a single to center field.
Airline took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Travinski doubled and scored on an error.
Sulphur scored four in the bottom of the third thanks to a single, two walks, fielder’s choice and an error.
The Vikings cut the lead to one in the top of the third. Hunter Hollis walked and scored on a double by Travinski, who advanced to third on Couch’s single. Travinski scored on Connell’s sacrifice bunt.
The Tors made it 5-3 in the fifth with a run on two singles.
Airline and Sulphur had seven hits each. Travinski went 3-for-3. Connell went 2-for-3.
At Lafayette, Haughton got off to a good start, scoring two in the first, one in the second and one in the third.
Peyton Stovall, Mason Simmons and Jathon Patton led off the game with consecutive singles. Simmons advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt. Cameron Townsend walked to load the bases. Hayden Hensley drew a walk, scoring courtesy runner Kason Green.
Lafayette (17-15) tied it in the bottom of the inning thanks to an error, a walk and a two-out single.
The Bucs regained the lead with an unearned run in the second. CJ McWilliams reached on an error and advanced to second. Peyton Stovall’s ground ball scored McWilliams.
Haughton added a run in the third. Townsend led off with a double and advanced to third on Cade Thompson’s sacrifice bunt. Hayden Hensley then hit a grounder to second and the result was an error that allowed Townsend to score.
The Mighty Lions tied it in the bottom of the inning on two singles and two walks. The second single, with two outs, scored both runs.
Four runs in the bottom of the fifth gave Lafayette the 8-4 lead. The first two came on a home run after a leadoff walk. The last two came on a two-out bases-loaded error.
Haughton finished with five hits, while Lafayette had six.
NOTE: The above report is based on teams’ official GameChanger accounts.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org