Benton wins opener at NCHS, Evangel sweeps into second round

BENTON CLOSER:  Thomas Allen delivered the last two outs Thursday night at Natchitoches Central’s Chad Hargis Field, closing a 3-1 Benton victory(Photo by KEVIN SHANNAHAN, Journal Sports)


NATCHITOCHES – Benton senior lefthander Sawyer Simmons tossed a two-hitter to help lead the Tigers to a 3-1 defeat of Natchitoches Central in the first game of a three-game Non-Select Division I LHSAA baseball playoff series Thursday evening.

Simmons didn’t allow a run or hit after the Chiefs got both in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Alex Dupuy ripped a two-out double to centerfield, Brock Laird walked and Dillon Braxton singled in Dupuy. 

Benton (20-15) tied the game in the fourth inning on a Kenner Lauterbach run-scoring single that scored Hudson Brignac.  

The Tigers took the lead in the fifth as Cole Weir scored on a Case Jorden single. After advancing to second on a wild pitch, Jorden scored on a fielding error for a 3-1 lead. 

Simmons recorded his 11th strikeout of the game to start the seventh inning before hitting a batter, which ended his day on the mound.  Thomas Allen came in and walked the first batter he faced before getting the second out on a sacrifice bunt and ending the game on a line drive to leftfielder Weir.  

Lauterbach was 2-for-3 at the plate and Cale Latimer had a double. 

Benton will be back in Natchitoches at Chad Hargis Field Saturday for game two of the series with the Chiefs needing a win to force a game three. First pitch is set for 1 p.m., and the third if-necessary game has a tentative 3:30 start time.

EVANGEL 15-11, MCKINLEY 0-0: The No. 13 Eagles swept both games from the No. 20 Panthers to win the best-of-three series and advance to the regional round in the Select Division II bracket. Both games ended because of the run rule. The first went three innings with Jayce Gill not allowing a baserunner, striking out six of the nine batters he faced. Evangel had 12 hits with Eli Scheen, Kody Jackson, Peyton Fulghum, Bryce Templin and Garret Burns all getting two. Game two lasted five innings with Evangel (12-20) getting multiple hits from Scheen (2-for-2), Jackson (2-for-4), Peyton Fulghum (2-for-2) Landon Martin (2-for-3) and Parker Fulghum (3-for-3). The Eagles will face No. 3 Teurlings Catholic in the quarterfinals next weekend. 

Here is a glance at the local LHSAA playoff pairings: 

First round 

Select Division I 

No. 4 Captain Shreve (22-12), Bye                                                      

No. 5 Northwood (27-7), Bye 

No. 10 Byrd (21-13), Bye  

Select Division II 

Thursday’s scores: No. 13 Evangel 15-11, No. 20 McKinley 0-0. Evangel wins series 2-0.

Select Division III 

No. 6 Calvary (24-10), Bye 

No. 19 Loyola (9-21) at No. 14 Newman (11-20), Today, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 1 p.m., if necessary 4 p.m. 

Non-Select Division I 

No. 24 Chalmette (18-11) at No. 9 Parkway (21-8), Today, 6 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m., if necessary 2 p.m. 

No. 23-Covington (24-9) at No. 10 Haughton (22-11), Today, 6 p.m.; Saturday, 1 p.m., if necessary 4 p.m. 

Thursday’s score: No. 20 Benton 3, No. 13 Natchitoches Central 1. Benton leads series 1-0.

Saturday’s games:  Benton (20-15) at Natchitoches Central (24-10), 1 p.m., if necessary 3:30 p.m.