For the second-straight day, South Lafourche landed a flush body blow that would have knocked out a lot of teams around the state.
But not No. 1 Tioga.
After feeling the body blow, the Indians battled back with a flurry of their own, using another rally to power themselves to victory and on Saturday, a spot in Sulphur.
The Indians beat the Tarpons 2-1 on Saturday, using 2 7th-inning runs to erase a 1-run deficit and score a series-clinching victory.
The loss ends South Lafourche’s season with a 24-10 record. Tarpons coach Chandler Guidroz said that while the goal was to win it all, he’s proud of his team for having arguably the best season in the history of the program, despite starting a heavily underclassman lineup.
“The guts our kids showed tonight defensively after last night’s game just says so much about this group and so much about the type of team we’ve had,” Guidroz said. “(Tioga pitcher) Hayden Toal threw a hell of a game. That’s a hell of a pitcher. Tioga is a hell of a team and I hope they go on now and win the whole thing. They deserved it. They played better than us.”
Saturday’s game was an absolute pitcher’s dual.
On one hand was Toal, who was absolutely filthy for most of Saturday’s game, getting ahead of hitters with his curveball, then putting them away with his fastball.
Toal allowed just 1 hit in 7 innings.
But Tarpons pitcher Duece Cheramie was just as effective. Pounding the zone and inducing countless ground balls, Cheramie allowed baserunners, but scattered them almost all, sending the game to the bottom of the 6th inning in a scoreless tie.
“Duece Cheramie has been playing hurt,” Guidroz said. “That guy is tough, man — a Golden Meadow boy. He’s just tough. He will fight you out there on the mound — he will fight anybody for his brothers. He was fantastic.”
In the bottom of the 6th, the Tarpons broke the ice.
Josh Pierce blooped a base hit — the only hit of the game for the Tarpons. He was then retired on a fielder’s choice ground ball from Jonah Callais.
With 2 outs and Callais on first, Wes Allemand hit a rope to shortstop Blake McGehee, which ate him up and went into the outfield. Callais was running on the pitch. The ball ricocheting off McGehee caused centerfielder Josh Bardwell to take a bad angle, rolling the ball all the way to the fence. Callais came all the way around to score, giving the Tarpons a 1-0 late-inning lead.
But in the 7th, Tioga never panicked, taking the win back.
The Indians got three-straight batters to reach safely to lead-off the inning, placing the bases loaded with no outs.
McGehee tied it at 1-all with an RBI fielder’s choice ground out, which put the runners at the corners with 1 out.
Ethan Looney then got down a beautiful bunt to score the runner from 3rd and give Tioga its first lead of the game.
From there, Cheramie pitched out of a jam to secure the lead and give his offense another chance.
But Toal wasn’t having it.
He worked fast and got the Tarpons down in order in the 7th, sending his team to Sulphur.
“I was just feeling it,” Toal said. “The adrenaline got pumping and I felt good. They have a great offense, but I located and hit my spots and it feels good to help my team.”
For Guidroz, there was pride in how his team competed, but also remorse for the journey stopping short of the goal.
South Lafourche has 4 seniors — Myles Matherne, Matt Jalbert, Jeron Pierce and Austin Zak — and Guidroz said all of those guys will be missed dearly.
A huge Tarpons crowd traveled across the state to cheer on the team this weekend, and the fans gave the team a standing ovation as they made their way off the field in defeat.
Guidroz said that while he believes the team’s future his bright, he’s going to ache for the next several days over not being able to send out the Class of 2021 with a trip to Sulphur.
“My heart is with my seniors and seeing what they’re going through,” Guidroz said. “They just led us to the greatest season in the history of this school. And I’m so proud of them — a small senior class — to do it the right way and to lead the right way. … I’ll be their coach forever, but I look forward to being their friend now. Those are special kids — all 4 of them.”
GAME 1 SLIPS AWAY IN 9-RUN 3RD
About 16 hours before game 2, Tioga scored a decisive Game 1 win over South Lafourche in a 13-4 rout.
The Tarpons actually only played one poor inning in the defeat — the bottom of the third inning.
South Lafourche scored 2 in the 1st and 2 in the 3rd to take an early 4-0 lead.
Matherne led off the game with a single, then Pierce reached on an error. They both scored on a 2-RBI double from Jonah Callais in the 1st to put the Tarpons up 2-0.
That lead grew to 4-0 in the 3rd when Derin Doucet hit a mammoth 2-run home run, scoring Allemand, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.
But then Tioga exploded, thanks in large part to the Tarpons’ inability to throw strikes and make routine defensive plays.
Tioga scored 9 runs in the bottom of the third inning, chasing pitcher Josh Pierce from the game.
South Lafourche walked 5 guys in the inning and made several errors, putting men on the bases for the Indians to fuel the rally.
With the lead, McGehee settled in on the mound to power his team to the win.
The Indians plated 3 more in the 4th, then 1 in the 5th to get the game to its final margin.