West Ouachita 5, Sterlington 3
Luke Honeycutt's two-run single snapped a 3-all tie and capped a four-run seventh inning as West Ouachita sneaked by Sterlington 5-3 Tuesday night at Panther Park.
Down to its final three outs, the Chiefs trailed 3-1 after six before rallying to end the Panthers' school record 21-game winning streak.
West Ouachita loaded the bases with nobody out as Thomas Wilhite singled up the middle, Hunner Jones walked and Cayden Meeks singled to left.
Caleb Rutledge then grounded out to first baseman Trey Rugg, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position with one away.
Moments later, Jones dashed home with the tying run on a wild pitch.
Up next, Conner Calhoun was hit by a pitch and took second uncontested.
Back to the top of the order, the lefty-swinging Honeycutt smoked a two-run single to right to give the Chiefs their first lead, 5-3.
"We had a chance, but we couldn't finish it," Sterlington coach Mark Sims said. "Hats off to West Ouachita. They're a good 4A team. They did what they had to do. They got 21 outs, we got 19."
On for starter Adam Tubbs, Luke Denman plunked Luke Farrar before getting out of the inning with a fly ball.
Tubbs was remarkable through the first six innings, allowing one run on four hits without walking a batter. Rather than going to the bullpen, Sims opted to allow the young left-hander to work through the situation. It was a case of Sims choosing the big picture over the short term.
"When we get into the playoffs, Adam may be our Game 2 starter. Heck, he may even be our Game 1 starter," Sims said. "He has to learn to go seven innings. He's just a sophomore. This is going to benefit him the next time out. If you don't get in games like this, you aren't going to learn. I thought this was good experience for him."
Tubbs threw 91 pitches, eight above his previous high.
"We weren't going to stretch him out too far," Sims said. "We had a couple of errors early that caused him to throw some extra pitches and get his pitch count up."
Right-hander Caleb Rutledge retired the Panthers in order in the bottom of the seventh.
Tubbs breezed through the Chiefs' order the first time around, striking out five while pitching around a two-out error in the second and Honeycutt's two-out single in the third.
Meanwhile, the Panthers got to Honeycutt for two in the second and one in the third.
Singles by Brooks Rushworth and Braden Hough and a wild pitch left the Panthers with runners at second and third and nobody out in the second. Tucker Allen's base hit chased both runners home.
"Tucker got the big hit and drove in both runs," Sims said. "Facing an arm like Honeycutt, you better get what you can when you can.."
Sterlington went up 3-0 in the third when Davis Johnson singled home Carson Clowers, who stole second after reaching on a fielding error.
Two batters later, Luke Denman made his way aboard on a two-out error, but the Panthers went on to strand runners at the corners.
Honeycutt and Rutledge would permit just two more base runners over the final four innings.
West Ouachita reduced the margin to 3-1 in the fourth on back-to-back singles by Farrar and Parker and consecutive groundouts by Connor Jones and Wilhite.
Rutledge retired six of the seven batters he faced — allowing only a two-out single by Allen in the sixth — to gain the win in relief of Honeycutt. Neither West Ouachita pitcher issued a base on balls.
Offensively, the Chiefs received two singles apiece from Honeycutt and Meeks and base hits from Farrar, Parker and Wilhite.
Sterlington matched the Chiefs with seven hits. Johnson and Allen produced two singles apiece and Clowers, Rushworth and Hough added base hits.
Tubbs struck out five, walked one and hit one through 6.2 innings before Denman came on to record the 21st out.
"You can't sit around crying about it, that ain't the way baseball works," Sims said. "You hate to lose one that was within your grasp, but you have to let it go. We have to finish it."
Sterlington (10-1) and St. Frederick will co-host a tournament Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Panthers will play home games against Minden on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., Lakeside on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Marksville on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., before traveling to St. Frederick for the tournament finale at 6:30.
Notes: Sterlington senior infielder Jarrett McDonald's incredible 68-game on base streak came to an end Tuesday night. McDonald reached base safely in the final 20 games of his sophomore season, all 38 games last year and the first 10 games of the current campaign. ... Neither team had an extra base hit Tuesday night. ... Both catchers — Calhoun and Hough — threw out would-be base stealers at second. ... West Ouachita (9-5) won its season-high fourth straight game.