SULPHUR — Ouachita Christian took the suspense out of Monday’s Division IV state championship game against Opelousas Catholic early.
The Eagles opened up an early 6-0 lead and Seth Traweek and Ty Pankey took care of the rest in an eventual 7-1 triumph over Opelousas Catholic.
Ouachita Christian (33-5) closed out the campaign with a 23-game winning streak and captured its eighth state title.
“Just watching these guys compete has been so rewarding as a coach,” said coach John Parker, who guided the Eagles to their first state title since 2015. “What a special group of kids, especially these 10 seniors.”
Opelousas Catholic got off to a promising start as Sam Pitre belted a leadoff triple to center field. Making just his second start since returning from Tommy John Surgery, Traweek fanned the next two batters and walked Zack Mengarelli before inducing an inning-ending fly ball to right fielder Bailey Burtram.
After Ouachita Christian’s first two batters went down quietly in the bottom of the first, Clint Hargrave crushed a mammoth home run off the left-center scoreboard.
Hargrave would be the first of five consecutive Eagles to reach safely. Next in line, Dale Fulmer walked, scurried to third on Cole Hathaway’s opposite-field single to right and came around to score on a wild pitch.
Traweek issued a leadoff walk to Dale Guidry in the second before striking out the side.
Profiting from three walks, a hit batsman and two hits, the Eagles increased their lead to 6-0 with a four-spot in the second.
Britton Mulhern started it off with a one-out free pass and Bailey Burtram singled off the leg of Vikings’ reliever Bryce Rozas. With runners at the corners and Burtram taking off for second, Britton Mulhern scampered home on an errant pickoff attempt at third.
Walks to Hargrave and Fulmer loaded the bases and Hathaway took a pitch off the right forearm to put the Eagles in command 4-0.
Two more runs crossed when Hunter Herring lined a base hit and continued to second as the throw from left field skipped past the catcher.
Traweek had sat down six straight before yielding a leadoff triple to Mengarelli and an RBI single to Cameron Gautheir.
On to protect a 6-1 lead, Ty Pankey quickly quenched the fire. After Pankey struck out the first batter he faced, Fulmer gathered in a foul popup and tossed to second baseman Connor Mulhearn covering first base for an easy double play.
Ouachita Christian countered with a run in the fifth when Connor Mulhern bounced a ground rule double over the left-center fence and eventually scored on a throwing error.
With the Eagles up six, the trophy presentation was a formality.
Cruising through eight straight batters, Pankey finally allowed a base runner when Gauthier reached on an error to start the seventh. A punchout later, the 2019 Eagles secured their spot in the program’s distinguished history when shortstop Crew Wilson, Connor Mulhern and Fulmer turned a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Traweek struck out five, walked two and allowed three hits in three-plus innings while Pankey faced the minimum over the final four innings.
Eight different batters contributed to the Eagles’ eight-hit output. Hargrave went deep, Connor Mulhern doubled and Britton Mulhern, Burtram, Fulmer, Hathaway, Herring and Gavin Shepherd singled.
Pitre and Mengarelli tripled and Gauthier singled for the Vikings (26-12).
Cameron Lee, the first of four Opelousas Catholic starters, was charged with the loss.
Notes: Ouachita Christian has won state championships in 1987, 1997, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, and now 2019. … Hargrave was named the game’s MVP. … The Eagles’ last loss came at the hands of Class 5A semifinalist West Monroe, 14-4, on March 15. … Seniors Seth Traweek, Crew Wilson, Britton Mulhern, Bailey Burtram, Clint Hargrave, Dale Fulmer, Cadge Wallace, Ty Pankey, Cole Hathaway and Gavin Shepherd helped the Eagles to 113 victories over the past four seasons.