By Kyle Roberts
Ruston High (15-6) swept through its competition last week, starting with a 16-7 home win over Glenbrook out of Minden on Tuesday and then back-to-back wins over Pineville in district play by scores of 11-0 on Thursday and then 12-3 on Saturday.
Ruston head coach Zack Smith spoke first about the team’s efforts in the midweek win over Glenbrook.
“They’re a good team with really good players,” Smith said. “They struggled on the mound pitching-wise, and we took advantage of that. We came away with double digit hits and took advantage of the base-on-balls they gave to us. We really took care of business that day; I’m very proud of our pitching staff. We ran a lot of guys out there on Tuesday and only gave up three hits. I’m so proud of that.”
Ruston jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning before tacking on five runs in the bottom of the third. Glenbrook made the game competitive before Ruston pulled away in the bottom of the sixth with eight runs in the inning.
Senior Cade Patterson led the way for the Bearcats at the plate with a hit, a walk, and four RBI.
The Bearcats hit the road for a Thursday shutout victory over Pineville after putting up 10 total hits as a team, while sophomore pitcher Talan Billberry earned the complete-game shutout win.
“I thought Talan did an outstanding job on the mound,” Smith said. “We had some guys at the plate really hit the ball for us. I was kind of disappointed with how many runners we left on base and our amount of strikeouts. Even with an 11-0 win, I addressed that with the team. I felt like with left a little too much on the table there and I challenged them.”
Ruston returned back home on Saturday and finished with an impressive 13-2 win over the Rebels, responding well to the challenge that Smith had given them after Thursday.
“We got out real well on them by getting 12 hits, and (senior pitcher) Nick Robinson threw really well for us,” Smith said. “The bats really came alive; we didn’t strike out at all and had five extra-base hits. For us to be a championship-type program, we’ve got to find that next level; I thought they did that on Saturday.”
Robinson pitched six innings and stuck out seven batters in his outing on the mound.
With only a few weeks left in the regular season, Smith added that he is pleased with how the players’ roles are shaping up as district play continues and as the playoffs begin to get closer.
“I’m happy where we’re moving,” Smith said. “We’ve got to be intentional with everything we’re doing to win a championship. That’s in our work, practice; everything in our program. I think they understand that.”