Bears' left fielder Connor Whalen went 2-for-3 with a home run and a pair of RBI while Clay Moffitt gave his team a complete-game effort on the mound as Catholic High rallied to defeat Zachary, 3-2, in the 2013 LHSAA 5A Baseball Championship title game on Sunday afternoon at Tulane University's Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
With the win, Catholic concluded the 2013 season with a 26-13 record to claim its fourth overall state title and its second as a member of the top classification in the state. The Bears' previously won the 5A title in 2010 with an 8-1 victory over Lafayette on the same field to add to their championship trophies earned in 1953 and 1976.
Moffitt got off to a rough start, giving up a pair of runs in a 28-pitch first inning, but settled in to allow just two singles the rest of the way to claim Championship Game MVP honors. He gave up just two runs (one earned) on three hits and a trio of walks while striking out two. Whalen, meanwhile, clubbed a solo home run with two out in the fourth to cut the deficit in half and drove in the game-winning run with an infield, RBI-single in the top of the seventh.
The Bears stranded a pair on the basepaths in the top of the first, and Zachary made the missed opportunity hurt in the home half of the inning. Much of the damage was Moffitt's own doing as he plunked shortstop Cade Milazzo before issuing walks to both right fielder Andre Weber and third baseman Gabe Hannum to load the bases. Moffitt fanned first baseman Kyle Vince for the second out of the frame, but designated hitter Ethan Troth followed with an infield single to bring home Milazzo and an errant throw by Catholic shortstop Josh Smith allowed Weber to score all the way from second.
After two scoreless innings which saw both teams squander opportunities to get on the board, Whalen clubbed a 1-0 pitch from Zachary starter Trent Crowder high off the screen in left to make it 2-1 in the fourth. An inning later, centerfielder Andrew Fournet got things going for the Bears when he ripped a leadoff single through the left side of the infield, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Smith and moved to third when catcher Jordan Romero was drilled by a Crowder offering to load the bases. During the ensuing at-bat, Crowder uncorked a wild pitch and Fournet was able to touch home plate before Broncos' backstop Evan Pace was able to corral the ball.
Catholic left the bases loaded in the sixth, but took advantage of a Zachary miscue and the speed of Whalen to account for the winning run. Romero reached to open what proved to be the winning inning as his fly ball fell harmlessly to the ground when Zachary centerfielder Daniel Hodges and right fielder Andre Webber collided on a miscommunication in the outfield. Designated hitter Corey Freed followed with a single to shallow center, and pinch runner Simon Prevot was able to move from second to third when first baseman Austin Devillier hit a deep fly ball to center.
With two away, an 0-2 count and the game hanging in the balance, Whalen hit a slow roller to third base which Zachary's Gabe Hannum gloved the ball cleanly at the hot corner. The throw to first, however, was not in time and Prevot scored to account for the final score.
Zachary put the tying run on base in the bottom of the inning when Moffitt hit Troth with an 0-2 offering. The eventual MVP responded by getting Pace to hit into a fielders' choice and induced a game-ending double-play off the bat of second baseman Micah McHugh to complete the coronation.
Crowder, who tossed 125 pitches on the day, was saddled with the hard-luck loss after giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits and four walks while striking out five in a complete-game effort of his own. Milazzo, Troth and left fielder Stephen Babin accounted for Zachary's hit total with one safety each as the Broncos finished the year 27-12.