Class 5A No. 8-seed Ruston wanted to get the offense off the ground faster than recent outings. The Bearcats (24-11) did exactly that Friday with four runs in the first inning and starting pitcher Doc Wilkerson pitched seven scoreless innings for a 7-0 win over No. 9-seed Catholic-Baton Rouge in Game 1 of the Best-of-3 series.
Ruston wasted little time giving Wilkerson plenty of breathing room with four runs in the bottom of the first against the defending 5A champions.
Catcher Gunner Durrett singled then later scored on a RBI double by first baseman David Michael Burkhalter. Left fielder Garrett Soileau delivered a crushing blow two batters later with a two run triple and scored moments later on third baseman Seth White’s RBI double and 4-0 Ruston lead.
“It was important to get off to a good start against (Catholic starting pitcher Clay Moffitt),” Ruston coach Toby White said. “We sent want him to get off to a good start with his fastball. later in the game, he worked in his breaking ball and did a good job. It was big for us to get off to that good start.”
Toby White praised the bottom of the batting order for “picking up” the entire team. Seth White and second baseman Garrett Hipp each hit doubles and White recorded three RBI in the bottom half of the order on Friday. Seth White led the team with three RBIs and 2-of-3 at the dish.
Wilkerson gave up four hits and no runs with a pair of strikeouts in Game 1.
The win allows Ruston a but of a safety net as they try to win the series Saturday.
The teams will meet at 1 p.m. for Game 2. If Ruston wins, the Bearcats advance to the quarterfinals. If the Bears (24-11) get the victory, the squads will play a decisive Game 3 approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of Game 2.
“It was big for us to win the first one,” White said. “Now you don’t go into Saturcay with your backs against the wall.”