Teams in this post:

Cardinals overcome Brusly, delay to reach title game


E.D. White Catholic pitcher Scott Szush picked up the complete-game win to lead the Cardinals during Friday's Class 3A semifinal game against Brusly at McMurry Park in Sulphur. (Photo by Kirk Meche/Lake Charles American Press)


SULPHUR — A five-hour rain delay pushed back the start time of the Class 3A state semifinal playoff game between E.D. White Catholic and Brusly at McMurry Park on Friday afternoon.

But when the rains moved on and the skies cleared up on Friday evening, E.D. White was ready to play.

The Cardinals used a three-run third inning and got a complete-game standout performance from senior ace pitcher Scott Szush to roll to a 4-0 semifinal win over District 7-3A rival Brusly today.

The win sends E.D. White (28-4 overall) to the Class 3A state championship game for the first time since 2001. The Cardinals, a second-seeded team, will meet No. 5 Parkview Baptist (19-17) at 1 today from Field 41 at McMurry Park in Sulphur.

After losing in the state semifinal round twice in the last three years, fifth-year E.D. White coach Shane Trosclair said it was a special feeling to advance to today's state championship game, where the Cardinals will try to win their seventh state title (and first since 2001).

"I don't think it has hit me yet," Trosclair said. "We've got over the hump, but we're not done. I want the entire city of Thibodaux to invade Sulphur (today). Thibodaux should be shut down, so let's make it happen."

E.D. White definitely made it happen on Friday, despite a five-hour rain delay that moved the scheduled 1 p.m. start to the semifinal game to 6 p.m. Friday.

The Cardinals (five hits) scored three big runs in the third inning, and once they took the lead, Szush and the defense protected it. The senior Southeastern Louisiana signee threw nine strikeouts and allowed just three hits and a walk against Brusly.

"We pitched it well, and we played defense behind Szush," Trosclair said. "We put pressure on their defense by stealing bases. It was just an outstanding effort by our kids."

Despite the delay and distractions that came with it, Szush said the Cardinals showed their experience by staying focused and getting the job done.

"It feels great to finally win a semifinal game," Szush said. "We're all excited, and we were extra motivated to get to the championship game. Hopefully we can come out and win one more."

After two scoreless innings by both teams to start the game, E.D. White's bats came alive in the third inning. When Jace Toups reached base on a catcher's interference error on Brusly, Nick Falgout stepped up to the plate and hit a RBI double that scored the first run of the game to put the Cardinals ahead 1-0.

Falgout later scored on a fielder's choice RBI from Brett Duet. Brusly catcher Landon Andre had a chance to tag out Falgout at home, but he dropped the ball, which made it 2-0 E.D. White.

Logan Barbera, who went 2-for-3 with two singles, a RBI and a stolen base, extended the lead to 3-0 when he blasted a RBI single that scored Duet to cap the third-inning scoring.

After beating Brusly (28-5) two times in district play, Barbera said the Cardinals were confident heading into a third matchup in the playoffs.

"We didn't have to scout them," Barbera said. "We knew who they were. We knew every pitch they were going to throw, so we were ready. We believe in ‘Grace is 5,' and we believe this is our year."

Neither team scored again until the sixth inning, when E.D. White added an insurance run off a wild pitch to go up 4-0.

Brusly still had a small chance to make something happen in the top of the seventh inning by putting a runner on base, but E.D. White's defense got a 4-6-3 double play to seize the momentum and seal the win for good.

E.D. White has outscored its four playoff opponents 37-0 this postseason, including 41 straight scoreless innings allowed by its pitching staff and defense.

Szush, who threw 75 pitches on Friday, said E.D. White's team chemistry is an important part of their success.

"The defense played great as always, and I knew they would have my back," Szush said. "It's a special team that we've got. We just have to go out and do what we've done all year, and we'll be fine."

Brusly committed four errors and stranded four runners on base against E.D. White. The Panthers used three pitchers Friday, and Taylor Prejean (four hits and two walks and strikeouts each) took the loss.

"Szush came out and threw great just like he did in the regular season," Brusly coach Tait Dupont said. "He's a good pitcher, and we had trouble hitting him, and then we had one bad third inning defensively which hurt us. I think that was the two keys to the game."

The Cardinals are one win away from a state title, but they will have to beat a traditional state powerhouse on Saturday to do it. Parkview Baptist, which has won 11 state championships in its history, defeated No. 1 North DeSoto, 11-0, in the other state semifinal game on Friday.

Trosclair said E.D. White, which will start senior Payton Caddou at pitcher today, respects the Eagles' tradition, and he expects a competitive game to decide the Class 3A state champion.

"Parkview Baptist is playing very good right now, and we're playing well," Trosclair said. "It should be a great atmosphere between two very good baseball teams traditionally. If you look at the history of these two baseball programs, you see all the state championships combined. One team will add one more, so it's going to be nice."

And Falgout, who is one of eight senior players on E.D. White's roster, said the Cardinals will be ready to get it their best shot.

"We've been working for this for five years, and we've got one more to go," Falgout said. "It took a lot of hard work to get to this game, and we finally got to it. We're not looking back now."