Almost:  Menard falls in finals, Pineville beaten in semis of state tournament

TOUCH ‘EM ALL:  Pineville senior first baseman Alex Courville begins his trot around the bases after sending a three-run home run over the left-field wall at Sulphur’s McMurry Park against Jesuit in the Division I Select baseball semifinals on Thursday. Unfortunately for the Rebels, the Blue Jays rallied to win 6-4 on their way to claiming the state title. (Photo by BRET H. McCORMICK, One T Photography)

The Menard Eagles weathered rain delays and scored a memorable semifinal upset in the LHSAA baseball tournament last weekend in Sulphur, but wound up one win shy of a state championship.

The sixth-seeded Pineville Rebels were closing in on a Select Division I championship game berth until Jesuit’s Blue Jays came back to prevail in their semifinal Thursday.

Menard, seeded seventh, surprised No. 2 Notre Dame 4-2 in a semifinal game in the Select Division III bracket Thursday, while Jesuit overcame a 4-0 Pineville lead and prevailed 6-4 not far away that afternoon at Sulphur’s sprawling, rain-inundated McMurry Park.

The Eagles put two runs on the board in their first at-bat, then added two more in the top of the seventh for a 4-0 lead. The Pioneers (28-7) rallied in the bottom of the seventh but didn’t have enough answers.

Menard’s Andrew Prejean earned the win after allowing two earned runs on five hits and four walks while striking out eight in seven innings.

Menard moved on to a Friday championship game battle against defending title holder St. Charles Catholic, which handed retiring coach Wayne Stein a 9-1 triumph. He is giving up baseball coaching to focus on football, where his Comets have won two straight state crowns.

An RBI single from Coen Laroux of Menard tied the game in the second inning, but SCC got a two-run base hit in the third, then scored six times in the fifth inning to take command.

The Eagles wrapped up their state runner-up season with a 29-7 record. They were bidding for the school’s first baseball state crown since 2007, and finished second for the first time in six state championship game appearances.

All but one player returns in 2024 for Menard, but senior Andrew Prejean leaves big shoes to fill.

Against Jesuit, Pineville moved on top 4-0 when senior first baseman Alex Courville’s three-run blast staked the Rebels to a 4-0 lead in the third inning.

But second-seeded Jesuit answered with a run in its half of the third, another in the fourth and a go-ahead four-run fifth inning. Blue Jays senior closer Gates Barre gave up only an infield single in the last two innings.

The Rebels finished 23-13, advancing to the semifinals by winning a three-game quarterfinal series at ASH by a 2-1 margin.

The Blue Jays went on to edge their New Orleans Catholic League rivals, Rummel, 1-0 for the state title Saturday and finished 31-7. It was their second state championship in three seasons, and it was their third one-run victory over Rummel this season.