Leesville Road baseball crowned Cap-8 champion

The Pride celebrate their Cap-8 championship after defeating Wakefield 4-1. They will now host Pine Forest tonight in the first round of the 4A state playoffs. (Photo Used by Permission of Bob Stewart)The Pride celebrate their Cap-8 championship after defeating Wakefield 4-1. They will now host Pine Forest tonight in the first round of the 4A state playoffs. (Photo Used by Permission of Bob Stewart)

Leesville Road entered the final week of the season needing two more wins to be the last Cap-8 champions, due to the realignment of conferences going into next year.

The Pride first traveled over to Millbrook to take on their rival, the Wildcats, Tuesday night. A rally in the sixth inning helped Leesville comeback and defeat Millbrook 5-4.

Millbrook opened the scoring in the second inning with a double off the bat of Will Gamble that scored Greg Strickland. The next batter for the Wildcats Casey Carnevale hit a single to score Will Hood, giving them a 2-0 lead heading into the third inning.

In the fourth inning, the Pride was able to break through as Shawn Sergeant hit a double to score Jack Kaelin, cutting Millbrook’s lead to 2-1.

Millbrook was able to answer in the bottom of the inning when Cal Teachy, Wildcat senior, laid down a bunt to score Hood from third base making it 3-1 in favor of the Wildcats.

Noah Latta, senior, kept the Pride in the game, battling through four innings of work, before Jared Leins, senior,  took over in the fifth inning.

“My mindset was to keep us in the game so we could have a chance to win. It was a crucial game for us if we wanted to win the conference,” said Latta.

Both teams were unable to score in the fifth inning but come the sixth inning the game changed in a big way.

The Pride needed to get something going as they had two innings left to pull out the win. Leesville loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth inning. Chase Bessard, senior, stepped up to the plate needing a hit to the outfield to drive in a run, and he was able to do just that. With a fly ball to center field that scored Zack McKee, junior, from third base, getting the Pride within one of Millbrook.

Next, Matt Wagner, senior, was up with runners on second and third with one out. After fighting off multiple pitches to stay alive in the at bat, Wagner singled through the right side, scoring Baldwin Bell, junior, and Sergeant to give the Pride a 4-3 lead.

“I was trying to stay short and put the ball in play. I knew this was going to be our best opportunity to score and I just wanted to do my job to help the team win. Coach preaches before every game and practice to be a team first guy and that’s all I was trying to do in that situation,” said Wagner.

Leesville wasn’t done yet as Ian Cummings, junior, singled later in the inning to score Wagner from third, giving the Pride a 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the six.

Millbrook was able to score a run in the bottom of the sixth off of a hit by Carnevale, but the Pride’s pitching and defense held strong to secure the win 5-4.

Now, with one regular season game left, the Pride had to beat Wakefield on senior night to secure the Cap-8 conference title. They were able to do just that as they defeated the Wolverines 4-1.

Wakefield struck first with a single through the right side to score the first run of the game in the third inning.

In the bottom of the inning, the Pride responded with Jack Kaelin hitting a sacrifice fly to score Landon Choboy, junior, from third base, tying the game up at one a piece.

In the fourth, Leesville had first and second with no outs. Bessard laid a bunt down the third base line and Wakefield’s Trey Hansen made an errant throw past the first baseman allowing Sergeant and Bell to score, giving the Pride a 3-1 lead.

Will Sandy, junior, continued to dominate on the mound as he threw a complete game allowing only one run, three hits, and two walks, while striking out seven batters.

Leesville tacked on one more run in the bottom of the sixth when Wagner hit a groundball to second base to score Sergeant from third for extend their lead to 4-1.

Sandy closed out the final inning to secure the win for the Pride and be crowned Cap-8 champions on senior night.

The Pride finished the regular season 16-8 overall and 12-2 in conference play. They now head into the first round of playoffs tonight as they host Pine Forest at 7:00 PM.

After not making the playoffs last year, this year’s seniors are excited for the opportunity at hand. “We are playing real well as a team right now with high energy and we need to keep that up and keep grinding through at bats in order to have success tonight,” said Wagner.

Follow @LRHSnews on Twitter for the final score of tonight’s game.

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