Sterlington 17, Erath 7
Luke Denman had a pretty good night.
Denman went 3-for-3, beat out a bunt single, drove in five runs, scored three more, and pitched three innings of one-hit relief as Sterlington battled back from a rocky fourth inning to beat Erath 17-7 in Saturday's Trey Altick Tournament nightcap at Panther Park.
Even Denman's mistakes worked out for the good. Missing a hit-and-run signal, he blasted a two-run shot over the left field wall to give the Panthers a 4-1 third-inning lead.
Things would come unraveled for the Panthers in the fourth as the Bobcats' first six batters reached safely. Tuker Bourque, Cole Durke, Jaiden Lebouef and Luke Frederick all dropped singles in front of Denman in left field. Lane Toups then singled to right and continued to second on a throwing error as the visitors took a 5-4 lead.
After Denman was summoned to the mound, Chandler LeBlanc put down a bunt and raced all the way to third on a throwing error. Mason Granger squeezed LeBlanc home to make it 7-4, although the Panthers finally recorded the first out of the inning.
Up next, Matt Domingues was awarded first base after taking a pitch off the forearm and Parker Bourque reached on the the Panthers' fourth error of the inning.
Both runners advanced on a Tuker Bourque's groundout.
Moments later, second baseman Jarrett McDonald retrieved Durke's grounder, which ricocheted off Denman's foot, for the third out.
Sterlington was on the ropes, but would not panic.
"We were down to Ouachita 2-1 in the sixth inning (in the season opener) and we were behind 3-2 in the fourth against Kinder (earlier Saturday)," Sterlington coach Mark Sims said. "Tonight, we fell behind against a good 3A opponent. We need be play games like this."
Combined with Friday night's 8-0 win over Airline and Saturday afternoon's 5-3 decision over Kinder, the Panthers finished the tournament 3-0.
"We got a lot of people in, and we got some good at bats this weekend," Sims said. "It was a good weekend for us."
Saturday night's contest with Erath was a typical final game for an early-season tournament.
"It was an ugly game of baseball," Sims said. "We had seven errors through four innings. I told the guys to just keep playing, and we didn't have another error after that.
"When you're watching the pitch counts the way we do this time of the year, it gets tough."
Sterlington battled its way back with three in the bottom of the fourth.
McDonald walked, Carson Clowers singled through the crease between first and second base, and Davis Johnson beat out a bunt single to load the bases with nobody out. Denman's one-out walk forced in a run, Braden Hough squeezed Clowers across, Tucker Allen walked to reload the bases and Logan Rushing reached on an error.
It would remain 7-7 until the Panthers ended it with 10 in the sixth.
Rushworth started the parade with a leadoff double off the left field wall and Denman was hit by a pitch. Hough's sacrifice bunt resulted in a throwing error, enabling Rushworth to cross with the go-ahead run.
Sterlington was just getting started. Allen followed Hough with an RBI single and Rushing delivered a two-run single.
Seven straight Panthers reached with two outs. Denman cranked a two-run double and Rushing's second two-run single of the inning put the 10-run rule in effect.
Rushworth's solo shot off the top of the right field fence and Denman's two-run job in the third staked the Panthers to a 4-1 lead.
Denman struck out one without issuing a walk to earn the win in relief of Zach Jones.
Sterlington totaled 13 hits as Denman homered, doubled and singled, and Rushworth accounted for a circuit, a double and four runs scored. Johnson doubled and singled, Rushing went 2-for-4 with four ribbies and McDonald, Clowers, Hough and Allen singled.
All seven of the Bobcats' hits were singles, including two by Tuker Bourque and one each by Granger, Durke, Lebouef, Frederick and Toups.
JT Langlinais was dealt the loss on the mound for the Bobcats (3-4).
Sterlington (6-0) concludes a four-game homestand against Winnfield on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Notes: Sterlington has won 28 of its last 29 games, including a school-record 17 straight. ... Sydnee Davis, who helped the Lady Panthers' softball team to a state runner-up finish last season, attended the game. She is now playing shortstop for Baton Rouge Community College.