By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports
Game of inches? Baseball proved to be just that Wednesday night at Ronnie Coker Field. It also proved it’s a game that rewards fortitude. Both lifted Haughton to program history in a Bossier Parish throwdown packed with emotion.
The visiting Buccaneers used a three-run home run – that landed on top of the left-center field fence — by senior Parker Lowrie, the No. 9 hitter, to defeat Parkway, 6-2, and steal a share of the District 1-5A title.
Not only did the Panthers miss an opportunity to earn the district outright, Benton can join the tie at the top with a victory at home against Natchitoches Central in today’s district finale.
Lowrie, a Centenary commit, was in a platoon situation during the first half of the season and endured his fair share of struggles at the plate not that long ago.
“He’s a good bunter,” Haughton head coach Glenn Maynor said. “I was actually thinking about bunting in that situation, but he’s been swinging the bat a lot better. The fact he got a hit didn’t surprise me; the fact it went out – big surprise. That was just a bonus.”
The Buccaneers scored in the top of the first and never trailed Wednesday. Ace Austin Anderson was lifted with the lead in the fifth inning after 93 pitches, but another unlikely hero emerged.
Gary Rondeau needed just 34 pitches to close out the final 2 2/3 innings – two days after he also earned a save against Parkway over the final 2 2/3 innings.
Rondeau, a sophomore, struggled as a starter early in the season and was forced to do most of his work at the junior varsity level.
Recently, Maynor had a “gut feeling” to promote Rondeau and he’s since excelled in high-leverage situations.
“A sophomore who struggled a month ago comes in and finishes the game again, that’s pretty cool,” Maynor said.
The Bucs’ duo on the mound held Parkway to four hits. LSU commit Trenton Lape, the Panthers’ second baseman, was 0-3 on Wednesday.
Maynor hopes the Buccaneers can parlay a strong finish to the season into a top-eight seed in the Class 5A playoffs, which will guarantee being at home in the second round.
After nine district championships in Class 4A, Wednesday provided the Buccaneers’ their first share of a title in the state’s highest classification.
“It helps with the belief these guys can win,” Maynor said. “It’s definitely a monkey off our shoulders.”
A couple of weeks ago, Maynor told his team they could stop worrying about making history.
“After we got swept by Captain Shreve, it was such a longshot,” Maynor said. “I told the guys to just go play and that were was no pressure about winning a district championship. I think it took a little pressure off them.”
Photo by VALLETTE WEAVER
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