The Vandebilt Catholic baseball team used a pair of late-inning rallies to upset higher-seeded foes and win their first two playoff games.
But the proverbial glass slipper shattered into 1,000 pieces on Saturday afternoon, and the Terriers’ Cinderella run through the Class 4A State Playoffs ended in the quarterfinals.
No. 19 Vandebilt fell 3-2 to No. 6 Neville in the Round of 8 – a hotly contested game played before a jam-packed crowd at Terrier Field. Just like in their prior playoff wins against Belle Chasse and Teurlings Catholic, the Terriers fell behind in the early innings and again tried to rally late in the game, pushing runners into scoring position in the bottom of the seventh inning – a rally that sent the home-standing Houma crowd into a frenzy.
But unlike their first two playoff games, Vandebilt wasn’t able to get that crucial timely hit to break the ice, as Neville retired Kane Degruise to end the game and move onto the semifinals.
For Vandebilt, the loss ends the team’s season with an 18-15 record. With the win, Neville pushed its way to Sulphur for a date with No. 2 West Ouachita in the semifinals.
“What can you say? The kids fought like champions,” Vandebilt coach Corey Sullivan said. “We have been underdogs the entire playoffs and today was no different. But we never stopped fighting and we battled them until the last pitch. We gave them every ounce of what we had and we just couldn’t quite get it done. I’m so proud of the effort our kids gave.”
About a month and a half ago, no one would have ever seen Vandebilt’s run coming. The Terriers started district play winning just four of their first nine league games – the low point coming in a 10-2 home loss to Ellender, a game played the same day that the school honored all of its state championship teams from the past.
But instead of crumbling and falling short of their goals, Vandebilt dug deep and saved its season. The Terriers won three-straight games to close out the regular season, dominant victories by a combined 39-5 margin.
Those wins, combined with a strong pre-district schedule allowed the Terriers to push into postseason play as the No. 19-seed, despite a record just above .500 for the year.
Once in the playoffs, Vandebilt continued their strong late-season play, gutting out an upset extra-innings road win over No. 14 Belle Chasse in the opening round – a game decided by a 7-6 margin.
From there, the Terriers worked their magic again in round two, stunning No. 3 Teurlings Catholic last Tuesday in a ballgame that may go down as the most dramatic game of the entire 2014 Louisiana prep baseball season.
Down 6-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Vandebilt knew it needed a big rally to keep its season alive. The Terriers’ bats delivered in a big way, as Vandebilt scored three runs in their final at-bat to score a 7-6 victory over the state powerhouse.
Several Vandebilt players contributed in the big inning filled with timely hits, but the game-winning blow was a knock from Garrett Louviere that plated Jordan Bergeron to win the game.
In the quarterfinals against Neville, it looked like that seventh inning magic was about to continue for one more game.
Neville broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth inning and took a 2-0 lead when Tigers’ slugger Brian Barefoot walloped a ball into the alley and over the fence for a two-run home run.
After that rally, Vandebilt responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the fifth when Jared Bigler was plunked with the bases loaded to make the score 2-1.
Both teams scored a lone run in the sixth inning, which took the game to the bottom of the seventh inning with Vandebilt behind 3-2.
The Terriers rallied and put doubt into Neville’s minds, placing runners on first and second base in their final at-bat.
But the magic ended there, as the team couldn’t get the key hit to keep it going.
The loss ends the careers of six Vandebilt seniors, players who Sullivan said set the tone for the team’s future.
“I’m so proud of those kids,” Sullivan said. “They did so much for this program and they accomplished a lot.”
E.D. WHITE FALLS IN SECOND ROUND OF 3A BRACKET
Just days before Vandebilt was ousted from the playoffs, E.D. White suffered the same fate in Class 3A.
The No. 3-seeded Cardinals fell to No. 19 West Feliciana 15-14 in a shootout that ended the team’s season short of its state championship goals.