The (27-11) West Monroe Rebels won what some may call an unconventional quarterfinal series after defeating Zachary 15-7 in a Game 3 that ended well past midnight in Baton Rouge.
Before West Monroe produced its best offensive outing of the season, Zachary had a celebratory firework show after an 11-5 Game 2 victory. Before the third and final game of the series began at 10:20 p.m., West Monroe head coach Wade Simoneaux met with his team.
“’Hey, they’re celebrating a little bit too early. They’re not going to need any more fireworks after Game 3,’” he told them. “Our dugout was electric. We’re talking midnight and one o’clock in the morning. It didn’t matter. Our offense just absolutely took over the game. We were hitting 90 m.p.h. fastballs in the gap, over the fence and laying down bunts perfectly. I just had this calm come over me.”
The state tournament berth for the No. 5 ranked Rebels in Class 5A should make up for any lack of sleep. The Rebels, who returned to West Monroe at 5:08 a.m. Sunday morning, will play No. 1 Barbe at 5 p.m. Thursday in a single-elimination game in Sulphur.
With the series tied, 1-1, the Rebels banded together to produce the most “West Monroe performance” of them all, as that big-run inning eventually came and doomed a Broncos team that prevented West Monroe’s football team from winning a state championship last December.
A nine-run fourth inning, 13 hits and a 7-RBI game for Josh Pearson were the building blocks for the Rebels to put 15 runs on the board in the victory.
The Rebels’ freshman sensation was 4-for-4 with a grand slam, home run and triple in the lopsided victory. His teammates brought the lumber in the victory, as well.
Cayden Pierce and Chase DeJean had two hits each, while Cole Brasher and Reed Eason doubled in the win.
Freshman Drew Blaylock got the win on the mound, going 4.2 innings and allowing six runs on four hits and four walks.
“We knew the New Orleans association always has a tight zone, so we went with strike throwers,” Simoneaux said. “Drew has three pitches, but he throws strikes. We pitched more guys than anybody in America this year. We had 17 guys pitch varsity for us, and some of them were freshmen. We went with our strike throwers and Drew did a great job.”
Carson Jones pitched the final 2.1 innings to secure the road win at 1:40 a.m. and a trip to Sulphur later this week for the Rebels.
After a lengthy weather delay, West Monroe and Zachary didn’t get things started on the diamond until approximately 6:30 p.m. Zachary’s coaches were concerned about small blurbs of rain on the radar, but Simoneaux wondered whether or not the Broncos wanted to push back Game 3 to Sunday for other reasons.
“It was frustrating but I told our guys that there trying to weasel out of one of these games and make us stay an extra night in a hotel,” Simoneaux said. “When two quality teams play like that it’s hard to sweep a doubleheader. I made sure when we had our meeting at home plate before Game 2 that we agreed on finishing the series that night.”
It was all good for West Monroe early on. A Zach Martin RBI single in the first inning gave the Rebels a 2-0 lead, and a Tom Biggs single in the third tied the game, 3-3.
West Monroe did leave three base runners stranded in that inning, which came back to haunt the Rebels. Zachary scored eight runs in the final two innings to take Game 2, 11-5.
Pearson and Biggs were 2-for-4 in the loss with DeJean, Pearson and Blaine Holloway reaching with doubles.
Charlie Norman got the start and went 3.2 innings before Case Roark replaced him. The Rebels used four pitchers in the loss.
The No. 4 Zachary Broncos rallied in the seventh to send Game 1 of a best-of-three Class 5A quarterfinal series with No. 5 West Monroe into extras. But the Rebels responded immediately with two runs in the top of the eighth to take Game 1, 7-5, on the road.
The Rebels used four pitchers to get the victory with Case Roark pitching the final two innings without surrendering a hit. Roark was rewarded the win for his relief efforts.
Lane Little got the start for the Rebs and allowed two runs on five hits and two walks.
Josh Pearson and Gage Breithaupt led West Monroe at the plate with two hits each in the victory. Breithaupt, Pearson and Chase DeJean doubled for the Rebels in the victory. DeJean’s double came in the eighth with two outs to set the table for West Monroe’s go-ahead runs.
“I told our guys how proud I was of them after the game because we always knew we had an offense, and that’s everything I always envisioned,” Simoneaux said.
The Rebels met No. 1 Barbe earlier this season and came back from a 5-0 deficit to beat the Bucs, 6-5.
“They definitely remember that game because they don’t blow many 5-0 leads,” Simoneaux said. “They have two Division I signees on the mound that they can turn to.”