By T. Scott Boatright
It wasn’t pretty. The weather was just plain nasty. But Choudrant High School’s walk-off win was a thing of beauty Tuesday night for the Aggies’ baseball team at The Love Shack at Louisiana Tech University.
Choudrant catcher Gavin Murphy blasted a two-run walk-off double with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Aggies rallied back to defeat D’Arbonne Woods 5-4.
In a game played in what started as light rain that gradually transformed into a cold, misty/foggy mix, it wasn’t a game of perfection by any means for either team. But it certainly had its moments.
After the first out of the game, the Timberwolves got three straight hits that could have turned into two runs if not for the Timberwolves’ two-hole hitter, who reached base on a single but failed to score shortly later as he literally skipped over home plate without touching it after three-hole batter Jack Long followed with a double.
Long scored moments later as D’Arbonne Woods catcher Gavin Rawls hit an RBI-signal that gave the Timberwolves a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Choudrant started slow at the plate as DWHS pitcher Holland Strickland held the Aggies to only one hit (a single by Bryce McGuire) in the first two innings of play.
“We didn’t have a full practice yesterday and we weren’t in sync tonight. We just didn’t play our best baseball,” Antley said. “Spring break is a tough time. It always is on kids as they try to relax but then have to come back and try to focus on games like tonight. I’m not making any excuses, we just didn’t play very good baseball tonight and D’Arbonne Woods took full advantage of it. They’re a good baseball team — probably the best 3-10 team you’ll see. They’ve played a really tough schedule.
“We knew getting that guy off the mound (Strickland) there was going to make the difference. We knew he was good, and we didn’t play good, clean baseball like we’re accustomed to playing. Hopefully we can turn things up this weekend. We have a big tournament with Hicks, Converse and Stanley in the Stanley Tournament this weekend, so we’re going to try and gear back up Thursday, reset and try to play some better baseball.”
Choudrant knotted things up at 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning as Jackson Case walked and reached second base on a balk before crossing the plate on a two-out groundout.
Aggies pitcher Landon Hennen stayed tough until the fifth, when D’Arbonne Woods took advantage of a walk, two hits and a throwing error to push across three runs to build a 4-1 advantage.
Fielding a tough hop on a wet field and then trying to make a tough throw played a role in that Choudrant error.
“There were some things we weren’t comfortable doing playing on the wet turf,” Antley said. “”To go to the state tournament, you want them accustomed to playing on a big field like this because those outfielders feel like they’re on an island by themselves out there. But if a ball gets through, it’s over for you out there.
“We talked about a lot of those things, but overall I just didn’t feel like we were in very good sync tonight. But give it to (the Timberwolves). That pitcher mixed it up and kept us off balance all night long. It didn’t seem like we were seeing that outside corner very well.”
Choudrant finally got to Strickland in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Murphy and Caden Bradshaw both singled and scored to cut the Timberwolves’ lead to 4-3 heading into the seventh.
McGuire and Hennen traded positions in the top of the seventh, with McGuire going to the mound and Henner moving to shortstop.
After giving up a single and a walk, McGuire settled down and got a pair of flyouts followed by a non-swinging strikeout to move into the bottom of the seventh.
Case led off for the Aggies with a walk before Strickland threw a strikeout followed by a flyout. But the DWHS hurler then walked McGuire to put two Aggies on base, leading to his replacement on the mound.
Lawson Brown took over pitching chores for the Timberwolves but Murphy was the first batter he faced, and the Aggies catcher hit the game-winning double that allowed Choudrant to walk off with the win and move to 10-2 on the season.
“Those top four guys — they’re all juniors — and they’re a good class,” Antley said about the top of his batting lineup. “And they’ve given us a lot this year. Landon Hennen is our leadoff hitter and pitched most of the way for us tonight. He went 0-4 tonight but it traditionally all begins with him. He didn’t have his best stuff at the plate, but they made a good play on him in that last at bat.
“Murphy is our third hitter, and he showed what he can do tonight and came through when we needed him most. And our clean-up batter, Caden Bradshaw, is another good one and had a triple and a single.”
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