St. Charles Catholic manufactured runs to perfection against St. Thomas More on Sunday in the Division II semifinals in Lake Charles, leading to a 5-2 win that sends the Comets to the state championship game.
St. Charles, the No. 6 seed, will take on top-seeded University High of Baton Rouge at noon Tuesday for the Division II state title. U-High advanced to the title game with a 4-0 win over Parkview Baptist, the No. 5 seed.
“After the game, there was no dogpile. Our kids expected to be here. This is where we thought we’d be. We knew we had a good bunch. We don’t feel overmatched when we walk on the field against anybody,” St. Charles Catholic coach Wayne Stein said.
The Comets broke open a 2-2 tie with three runs in the top of the sixth inning.
A double by Joe Chiarella scored Nick Lorio to put St. Charles on top 3-2 with a throwing error by the Cougars advancing Chiarella to third on the play.
With Caleb St. Martin at bat, Chiarella started to charge home on a suicide squeeze. St. Martin swung at a pitch high and out of the strike zone to try and protect Chiarella. St. Martin popped up his bunt attempt, but with the Cougars’ infield playing in, the ball blooped just over the infield, allowing Chiarella to score.
After courtesy runner Nick Lemoine stole second base, Jason Bosco followed with a bunt single. A sacrifice bunt by T.J. Lasseigne scored Lemoine for a 5-2 SCC lead.
“We were able to scrap some runs early by some of their mistakes allowing us to play ‘small ball.’ We put the ball down. We got a big hit to get it all started with Joe Chiarella, scoring Nick Lorio. After he went to third on an error, we squeezed him in and we basically had four bunts in a row. We’re not someone to bunt all year but it’s something we practice all year for moments like that,” Stein said.
Each team scored twice in the second inning.
Hits by Eli Ory and Chiarella put runners on second and first in the top of the inning. A bunt by St. Martin was fielded by Drew McDaniel. A bad throw by the St. Thomas More pitcher to third base allowed Lemoine to score the first run of the game. A wild pitch allowed Chiarella to score for a 2-0 Comets lead.
The Cougars got the runs back in the bottom half of the inning.
St. Charles once again got solid pitching from Kaile Levatino. He allowed two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out two.
“I can’t say enough about the way Kaile threw. We really didn’t play that great behind him. We put him in some binds and he pitched out of it,” Stein said.
McDaniel allowed five runs, three of which were earned, on six hits and two walks while striking out nine in 5 1/3 innings.