Grand Lake baseball

Grand Lake's senior Drake Johnson struck out six batters in five innings Monday to lead the No. 1 Hornets to a 11-1 win over No. 16 Haynesville.

The Class 1A finals at the LSHAA state baseball tournament this week might as well be called the District 4-1A finals.

Three of the four teams hail from District 4-1A in defending champion No. 10 Merryville (12-15), No. 1 Grand Lake (16-13) and No. 6 Oberlin (13-10). 

“That is pretty cool,” Grand Lake head coach Tyler Alston said. “We know each other very well. 

“I don’t know if there is going to be a whole lot of scouting reports going on. It is a great representation of our district. There is a lot of good baseball in this area. The hard work is paying off.”

Grand Lake is in the semifinals for the third consecutive year and will take on the odd-man out in No. 4 Kentwood (12-10) Thursday at 10 a.m.

“From what I have heard they are very athletic,” Alston said. “They were in the semifinals last year. 

“Their nerves should be gone. Hopefully, both teams play a good game and the best team wins. We have to make the routine plays and keep our nerves in check.”

Grand Lake has won seven consecutive games led by senior pitchers Jaren Sonnier, Drake Johnson and Dylan Davis. 

“Our pitching staff has been great,” Alton said. “The top of our order really gives us a chance to score runs.”

Merryville may be the defending champ and has won eight consecutive playoff games dating back to last season, but it has a tough semifinal matchup Thursday at 1 p.m. against Oberlin, who won both regular-season meetings.

“We played two pretty close games the first two times,” Merryville head coach Nathan Courville said. “You can’t ask for a better scouting report. 

“They are scrappy and take advantage of opportunities. We made some mistakes that they took advantage of. We just need to make sure that we are throwing strikes and not give them extra chances with walks and errors.”

The Panthers have struggled to score at times this year but put together some sixth-inning rallies to make it through the last two rounds of the playoffs.

“We are coming through with the big hits,” Courville said. “We just keep fighting It is crazy. 

“In the regular season, we would get up and give up the lead. We are finally finding a way to drive them in. Earlier in the season, we struggled to bring them in. We had big hits late in the game against Jonesboro-Hodge and Oak Grove.”

Oberlin last played in the semifinals in 2017 and has won five of its last six games propelled by a pair of complete games in the playoffs by Kellon McCleon and Trevor Rider.

“We just have a lot of guys that work hard every day and never give up,” Oberlin head coach Greg Manuel said. “In a lot of games this year, we have been down and always find a way to come back.”

Manuel said his team can’t rely on late-inning rallies that they used to beat the Panthers in the regular season.

“We have to settle down quickly before it is too late in the game,” Manuel said. “I know Merryville gets amped up and we will be amped up. 

“Anytime you play a district rival, it is going to be intense. It is whoever settles down and makes the fewest mistakes.”

Class B

With the No. 1 and a powerful offense, Pitkin is looking to win its first state championship since 1999.

Pitkin was the best team in Class B in the 1990s, winning six state championships. 

The Tigers lost in the semifinals last year, but have five all-state players led by first-team pitcher Garrett Edwards. Also back is Grason Dauzat, Adrian Nolan, Jonathan Baker and Clay Leblanc.

Pitkin has scored 10 or more runs 16 times this season with Dauzat, Leblanc and Grant Goleman combining for 12 RBIs and 12 hits in two playoff games.

Edwards and Dauzat combined to shutout Glenmora in the regular season 6-0.

Pitkin (25-5) will take on No. 5 Glenmora (18-13) today at 4 p.m. on Field 37.

Glenmora lost in the regional round last year and lost 1-0 in the finals in 2017 to Choudrant.

The other semifinal game will feature  No. 2 Quitman and No. 3 Converse at 7 p.m.

Converse got knocked out in the quarterfinals the last two years, but has a strong senior class led by Jordan McComic (.328 avg., 36 RBIs, 3 HR), Chance McDonald (.368, 26 runs, 20 RBIs, 7 doubles/9-3, 0.98 ERA, 96K, 21bb, 64.1 IP), Logan Meshell (4-1, 0.88 ERA, 43k, 10bb, 31.2ip) and Dakota Buecker (.377, 17 run, 17 RBIs, 4 doubles).