SULPHUR, La. – A year ago, Mason Vicknair was named the Most Valuable Player in the state in Class 2A but Riverside came up short, losing in the semifinals. A year later, Vicknair and the fourth-seeded Rebels were determined to finish the deal.
The Rebels did just that, thanks to Vicknair.
The senior Delgado signee pitched, fielded and hit the Rebels to a thrilling 2-0 victory over second-seed Ouachita Christian in the Division III state championship game at McMurry Park in Sulphur Saturday.
“It’s outstanding,” said Riverside head coach Frank Cazeaux. “Ouachita Christian lost a lot of starters from last year but they are a very nice team. We battled. We had been here twice in the last three years. We wanted Mason on the mound, we knew he would pitch well. He was outstanding. He made one of the best plays I’ve ever seen in the field.”
Vicknair pitched a complete game seven-hitter, walking just one and striking out five. He made three splendid plays, fielding his position in superb fashion and tripled at the plate. He used 115 pitches.
“It’s the best feeling ever,” Vicknair said. “Any high school baseball player wants to experience this. It was a great feeling knowing that you get to come out here with your brothers, your family and win a state title. It’s a great feeling. Honestly, I’ve pitched around runners all my life, working out of tough situations. I did not let the traffic on base bother me.”
Riverside threatened in the top of the first on a one out triple by Mason Vicknair and a two-out walk to Jared Hymel but Seth Traweck got Conner Traweck got Conner Poche to ground out to second base to end the inning.
The Rebels broke on top in the top of the third inning. Zack Gieger ripped a double to the wall in center and later scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-0.
OCS had a chance in the bottom of the third, loading the bases after two were out on singled by Skyler Wilhite and Dale Fulmer and walk to Connor McKoin but Mason Vicknair got Clint Hargrave to fly out to right to end the threat.
Riverside added a run in the top of the fourth as Heath Mohon singled, Payton Bailey was hit by a pitch and Dane Edler bunted for a hit to load the bases. Gieger drove in courtesy runner Devon Watson with a sacrifice fly to deep right to make it 2-0.
The Eagles threatened again in the bottom of the fourth. Garrett Morris reached on an error Jake Martien singled with no outs but with two outs, Vicknair speared a vicious line drive off the bat of Bryce Wallace to escape unscathed.
Vicknair came through in huge fashion again in the bottom of the fifth to kill another scoring chance for OCS. Garrett Morris grounded slowly to toward third base. Vicknair pounced off the mound, made a brilliant play and gunned strike to first to get Morris, stranding runners at second and third.
“In the moment, you just had to let it happen, start after it and try to make a play,” Vicknair said. “I was fortunate to make the play. I owe it all to the man above for giving me the opportunity to play in a game like this, playing a game I love. I cannot thank Him enough. I am truly blessed. This is an awesome experience.”
Traweck took the loss, going six innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He walked four and fanned three. Jonathan Snuggs pitched a perfect seventh inning for the Eagles. .
OCS head coach John Parker was proud of his young team’s effort.
“It was disheartening to look up there and see that we out-hit them,” Parker said. “We had multiple opportunities. Credit to Vicknair. He made the pitches when he had to make then pitches and he fielded his position extremely well. We just couldn’t push anything across. We lost 11 seniors last year and were young this year. I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish.”
The championship is the first for Riverside since winning the Class 2A state championship in 2006. It is the third in school history. For Cazeaux, it is his second state championship as a head coach, having won the Class 5A title at Archbishop Rummel in 1997.
“I knew going in we had a shot this year,” Cazeaux said. “The community is behind us and supports us. It is a great place to work. I remember the last one in 1997. It is gratifying because these are hard to get. These kids made it possible.
RA 001 100 0 — 2 4 1, 7 LOB
OCS 000 000 0 — 0 7 0, 11 LOB
WP–Mason Vicknair (3-2)
LP–Seth Traweck (6-3)
Time of Game: 2:07