NEW ORLEANS - The Class 5A state baseball tournament concluded Sunday afternoon –- a day late and one run short for the Rummel Raiders.
A two-run single by championship game MVP Bryce Jordan in the third inning lifted Barbe of Lake Charles to a 3-2 victory against Rummel in the finals at Tulane’s Tuchin Stadium.
With Rummel and Barbe each bidding for the school’s sixth state title, Barbe came through, but Rummel came up short.
Staked to a 2-1 lead through two innings, Rummel starter Justin Sinibaldi (2-1) retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the third. But a walk and a hit batsman preceded a double steal that put runners in scoring position. Bryce Jordan, who drove in the first run with a first-inning sacrifice squeeze bunt, singled to center for a 3-2 lead that stood up behind Barbe reliever Taylor Butler, a right-hander headed for LSU. Butler (6-1) pitched five innings, allowing no hits and striking out six. He threw 74 pitches, 41 for strikes.
A leadoff single by Ole Miss signee, shortstop Gavin Cecchini, led to a 1-0 lead when he advanced on a bunt single by Beau Jordan and a squeeze bunt by his twin brother.
Barbe’s style of play – utilizing squeeze bunts, sacrifice bunts and bunts for hits, as well as the hit-and-run, the straight steal and the double steal, can be as pesky as a south Louisiana mosquito.
“We play Barbe every year,” said Rummel coach Nick Monica. “We know their style. You have to keep your poise and not let it get to you.”
Rummel (26-11) scored in the second inning when a leadoff single by Ross Budenski, a force-out and a single by Ridge Goodwin loaded the bases. Scott Hale and Zach Schmidt followed with run-scoring singles for a 2-1 lead.
“The plan was throw fastballs early in the count and spot pitches after that,” said Sinibaldi. “This was still a great season and I am proud of what we did.”
“Coach Monica told us everything that happened here today, we will remember the rest of our lives,” said Schmidt. “We should have won the state championship.”
The tourney, set for two days, was extended to Sunday because of Saturday rains. The event drew 6,313 fans for the seven games, including the finale (1,403 fans) which was the first errorless game of the event.
Rummel’s runnerup finish was its fifth in school history.
“There was not much you could tell a team afterward that has 15 seniors,” said Monica. “But remember -- we won 14 games last year. I told them that in the future they can always come to us with any of life’s problems. This is a family here at Rummel and I felt they bought into that. We (coaches) serve as their parents for about six months a year.”
Barbe finished 33-6 with its first title since 2006.
“We don’t play not to lose,” said coach Cecchini. “We play to win. They buy into and believe in what we do.”
As the Buccaneers unraveled from a huge postgame dog pile, the Raiders retired to right field where tears freely flowed.
Managed a somber, red-eyed Monica, “This one was tough to take.”
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