By DAVE WOODALL
Tammany West sports
SLIDELL – It was truly a momentous occasion as the #21 seed Salmen Spartans hosted #29 Carencro in the Class 4A quarterfinals last Friday.
No team seeded 20 or higher had never met in a Class 4A quarterfinal baseball playoff game until now.
And Salmen made the most of their opportunity winning the opener 10-2 in a best-of-three series over the Bears in front of a nice crowd.
Game two was scheduled for noon last Saturday and if the Spartans win they will advance to the All-State Sugar Bowl/LHSAA baseball state semifinals in Sulphur.
The Spartans (20-18) used seven hits and a number of Carencro errors to take the win.
They also relied on the services of starting pitcher Andre Beaudoin who was in complete control over the Bears.
Beaudoin went the distance giving up only two runs on six hits, one walk and nine strikeouts for the win.
Nathan Lanthier took the loss for the Bears.
“I felt good out there today,” said Beaudoin. “We made plays and got the runs that we needed.”
After two scoreless innings, Carencro (17-22) drew first blood when Drake Harmon led off the third with a walk.
Dylan Romero bunted him to second and Harmon scored on Blade Richard’s infield single.
Beau Richard followed with a single and stole second as Blade Richard scored on the throw to put Carencro up 2-0.
Salmen responded with three runs in the bottom of the third.
With one out, Jordan Rushing singled and Chad DeGruy reached on an error.
With runners on first and second, Nick Talamo laid down a bunt single to load the bases.
Joey Smith then executed a squeeze bunt, but the Carencro catcher was called for catcher’s interference, scoring Rushing and reloading the bases.
Beaudoin followed with another bunt to score DeGruy.
Talamo also scored on the play behind DeGruy to put Salmen in the lead at 3-2.
Beaudoin put on a show from there shutting out the Bears over the next four innings.
But the Spartan offense was not done just yet scoring five in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
Talamo and Smith opened the fifth with singles followed by a Beaudoin single that fell inside the right-field just inside the right-field line scoring Talamo and Smith.
Three Carencro errors allowed three runs to score to make it 8-2 Spartans.
In the sixth, Rushing walked and stole second. DeGruy followed with a single and stole second putting runners on second and third.
Rushing then stole home and a Smith single drove in DeGruy to post the final score of 10-2.
“We asked them to cut the lead in half in the third,” said Salmen coach Brian Babin.
“I was very pleased with the way the guys responded when they were down a couple runs.”
In last Saturday’s game two of a best-of-three series, Salmen took a 5-2 win over the Bears to clinch a spot in the semifinals against the #8 seed Neville tomorrow in Sulphur.
Salmen (20-18) continued to play their brand of baseball coupled by a superb complete game pitching performance by Bryce Nicaud who gave up only three hits, three walks and seven strikeouts.
Defensively, Spartan catcher Cole Jackson threw out two Carencro runners trying to steal second while the infield turned two double plays.
Salmen got on the board quickly in the first inning when Talamo and Smith led off the with singles.
Talamo then scored on Jackson infield single.
With runners on second and third with only one out, Carencro starter Corey Boudreaux got out of the jam with a strikeout and a fly ball out to center to keep it at 1-0 Spartans.
The Spartans manufactured another run in the third when Talamo singled to start the inning.
He then stole second and advanced to third on a groundout.
Beaudoin followed with a perfect squeeze bunt with two strikes to score Talamo padding their lead to 2-0.
Salmen made it 4-0 in the fourth as Chase Kitchens and Nicaud singled and went on to score on Bradley Cruz’s two-RBI single to left-center field.
Carencro finally got on the board in the fifth when Austin Duplechin walked and scored from third on a Spartan error.
In the sixth inning with Salmen leading 4-1, Carencro’s Drake Harmon led off with a triple and Dylan Romero walked.
Romero attempted to steal second, but Salmen catcher Jackson gunned him out with a throw to shortstop Nick Talamo.
Talamo made the tag and fired back home to Jackson for the putout of Harmon at home plate. Nicaud got a strikeout to end the Bears hopes in the sixth.
After a very disappointing start to the season, Salmen is two wins away from its first baseball championship since 1996.
“Hats off to these guys around me,” said Babin.
“They bought into a system. They started believing, and they started executing.”