CROWLEY – The struggles continued for the Notre Dame Pioneers Thursday evening in the opening game of the Teurlings Tournament.
The Pios, playing the first game of the tournament at Miller Stadium, fell behind early and were never able to really mount a charge in a 9-2 loss to Class 5A New Iberia Senior High.
The loss was the Pios’ fourth in their last five games and sent them to 2-7 on the season.
“This has kind of been the story of our season so far with the schedule that we have been playing,” said Pio coach Timmy Robichaux, whose squad has lost three games to 5A opponents (New Iberia, Sam Houston, Lafayette) and two to 4A teams (St. Louis and DeRidder). “There’s not much room for error.”
Against NISH, the troubles began early, triggered by a leadoff triple and a sacrifice fly by the Jackets.
A bunt single and a walk followed before an errant pickoff throw gave the Yellow Jackets runners at second and third for Jacob Polk, who doubled to the left center field gap scoring both runs.
“Like we tell the kids, we have to set the tone in the first inning,” said Robichaux. “We can’t come out and give up a three-run first inning.”
The Pios were unable to answer NISH’s run in the bottom of the frame and failed to get a hit until the fifth inning.
Yellow Jacket hurler Trevor Haycock had a lot to do with the Pios’ offensive struggles. The southpaw struck out three and coaxed the Pios into six flyouts in the first four innings.
“That was a good test for us,” said Robichaux of facing a quality left-hander like Haycock. “In most of the games that we’ve been in, for the most part, we’re seeing very good pitching. Anytime you have a lefty that has pretty good velocity and offspeed pitches, it’s going to be tough. That’s why when you get somebody in scoring position, you’ve got to do something to get them in to have a chance.”
Despite going hitless for the first four innings, the Pios did have two opportunities to crack the scoreboard early on.
With one out in the first inning, Brad Stoma reached base courtesy of an error and then stole second base. He was left stranded after back-to-back strikeouts ended the frame.
Then, in the third inning, Hogan Guidry was hit by a pitch. He also stole second base but advanced no further after a flyout to first base and a groundout to shortstop.
“We didn’t have a lot of chances but we had a chance for two timely hits and we didn’t come through,” said Robichaux. “We had a runner in scoring position two times and couldn’t get them in. If we could have gotten them in, then it’s a 3-2 game. But we didn’t get them in.”
Notre Dame starting pitcher Royce Zaunbrecher settled in after the rough first inning and held the Yellow Jackets to just two runs over the next four innings.
Zaunbrecher gave up just three hits in his final four innings before giving way to Wyatt Sullivan in the sixth.
“Royce, for the most part, settled in after the first inning,” said Robichaux. “He pitched a little bit better as he went deeper into the game. But his pitch count got up too high and that’s why we had to come get him.”
Sullivan struggled with his control some in his first inning of work. After a groundout and strikeout to start the inning, he hit the next batter and then walked another. An infield hit loaded the bases for the Yellow Jackets before B.J. Landry delivered a single to center to score two more runs and increase the lead to 7-0.
The Pios finally got something going in the bottom of the frame when Stoma singled to right field with one out. Dillan Gilbert then drew a walk and Alex Rozas came through with a two-run single to left field.
Notre Dame had a chance to cut into the lead even more with runners at first and second after a Sam Veillon single but Haycock got out of the potential jam with a strikeout and a fly out to first base.
Back-to-back walks to start the top of the seventh inning led to two more runs for the visitors courtesy of an RBI single from Shane Thibodeaux and a sacrifice fly by Zack Robichaux.
Notre Dame threatened in the bottom of the frame when Joe Faulk and Jacques Thibodeaux each singled with one out. The two Pio runners advanced to second and third base on Stoma’s groundout to first base but were left stranded when Gilbert lined out to first to end the game.
In all, the Pios stranded seven base runners, five in scoring position, and had nine flyouts on the night.
“We put something together there in the sixth inning but it was just too, little too late,” said Robichaux. “We’ve got to find a way to make adjustments. And we had a few innings where we had some flyouts and some popups and that does you no good. We need to get the ball to the ground more and make them make plays.”
The Pios collected six hits off Heycock. Faulk led the way with two hits and Rozas had one hit and two RBI. Veillon, Stoma and Thibodeaux each had a single.
The Yellow Jackets banged out 10 hits in the victory and were led by Landry’s 4-for-4 performance that included three RBI. Robichcaux added two hits and one RBI and Polk had one hit and three RBI. Haycock and Shane Thibodeaux each singled and drove in one run and Bryce Leslie had one hit.