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Berwick High School's Barrett Hover
(The Daily Review/Mico Aloisio)

Berwick, Iota split 1st two games of series

Deciding 3rd game is Friday at 4 p.m.

The No. 4 Berwick Panthers earned a doubleheader split with No. 5 Iota in Class 3A quarterfinal round playoff action in Berwick Thursday.
The No. 4-seeded Panthers dropped the first game of the best-of-three series to the Bulldogs, 10-1, as Berwick starter Seth Canty was tagged for five runs in the first 4.2 innings.
Berwick’s lone run of the game was in the sixth inning when Zeph Hoffpauir took Iota starter Hunter Wriborg deep with a one-out home run to left.
Iota cruised to the victory behind a 3-for-5 performance from Gavin Vidrine, who had four RBIs and two runs scored, and a 3-for-5 showing from Andrew Ashby, who had two doubles, three runs scored and a stolen base.
Hoffpauir (2-for-3 with a home run, an RBI, a run and a stolen base) and Chad LaGrange (2-for-3) led Berwick in hitting as the Panthers totaled seven hits in a loss that snapped a 20-plus-game home win streak.
With their backs to the wall going into the nightcap of Thursday’s scheduled twin-bill, Berwick responded.
In Game 2, the Panthers erased an early 1-0 deficit to grab a 3-2 lead before scoring 10 runs in the sixth inning off three different pitchers for the eventual 13-2 run-rule victory in six innings.
Berwick sent 15 men to the plate in the top of the sixth, which started with a single to center by LaGrange off Bulldogs starter Gavin LeBlanc.
The Panthers loaded the bases with no one out before Ethan Nguyen drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 4-2.
Seth Giroir followed with an RBI sacrifice fly, and Barrett Hover singled up the middle to push the lead to 6-2.
The biggest hits still were to come.
Hunter Landry smoked a two-run single to right field with the bases loaded to make it 8-2, Hoffpauir connected on a double to left to up the lead to 9-2, and LaGrange — in his second at-bat of the inning — cleared the bases with a two-run triple to right to push the lead to 11-2.
All of that damage came off reliever Gage Monceaux, who entered the game with two outs in the fifth.
Berwick tacked on two more runs in the inning off reliever Gavin Cradeaur — one on an RBI single by Nguyen and another after Zach Delatte lined out to second base and Tyler Lejeune committed a throwing error trying to double up the runner at second.
The Panthers collected eight hits in the inning, drew three walks, a hit batsman, and capitalized on two errors.
Ashby hit a run-scoring double in the bottom of the sixth for the Bulldogs’ last run before Nick Duplechain struck out looking to end the game.
Hoffpauir started for Berwick and turned in another warrior-like performance. In 5.1 innings, he allowed two runs, and of the 16 outs he recorded, 15 off those were by way of strikeout. He allowed just five hits and three runs (one earned) with three walks and two hit batters.
He allowed five hits in his outing before LaGrange took over in relief and recorded the final two outs.
Hoffpauir left to another standing ovation from the Berwick faithful, the second time he’s done so in as many starts.
In game two, Berwick totaled 15 hits as LaGrange, Landry and Mitchell Sanford all recorded three apiece. LaGrange was 3-for-5 with a triple, three RBIs and two runs, while Landry was 3-for-5 with a triple, three RBIs and two runs. Sanford finished 3-for-4 with two runs.
The victory sets up a winner-take-all Game 3 Friday at 4 p.m. at Berwick with a trip to the state semifinals in Sulphur on the line.
“Two great teams battling it out,” Iota Coach Leonard Cloud said. “That’s high school baseball in May. It’s what you expect. Two good-hitting clubs. It’s going to be who has the better arms to execute (Friday) and who’s going to make the least mistakes.”
Cloud said he wasn’t concerned about the way Thursday ended having any carryover effect for his club Friday.
“We’re going to preach to our guys to flush it and get ready,” Cloud said. “If we’d lost the first game and won the second, it would still be the same.”
Cloud said he had not yet decided on a starter for Friday’s game.
Berwick Coach Brandon Bravata said his team’s bounce-back win in the second half of the doubleheader showed what toughness the Panthers have. He said it gives him a good feeling going into Friday’s rubber match.
“At this level, a Game 3 in this situation is definitely interesting,” he said. “You’re at the back of your pitching staff. It’s going to be who toughens up and really fights and is able to make some plays. It could be high-scoring. We’ve just got to come out and play a little better than we did in the first game. I was proud of our guys for fighting with their backs to the wall.”
Bravata said Rustin Ratcliff would start for the Panthers on the mound Friday. Ratcliff has thrown roughly 30 innings this season.
In game one, Wriborg earned the win. In a complete-game effort, he surrendered one earned run on seven hits with two strikeouts.
Other top game 1 offensive contributors for Iota were Kameron Aucoin, 2-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a run; Chanery Johnson, 2-for-4, two RBIs; Wriborg, 2-for-3, two runs; and Duplechain and LeJeune, each 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run
Ethan Nguyen added a 1-for-3 performance with a double for Berwick.
Canty suffered the loss. In 4.2 innings, he surrendered five runs (four earned) on nine hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
In game two, other top Berwick offensive contributors were Nguyen, 2-for-3 with two RBIs, a stolen base and a run; Brett Williams, 1-for-2, a triple and three runs;
Hoffpauir, 1-for-3, a double and an RBI; Hover, 1-for-5, an RBI and a run; and Giroir, an RBI.
Top game two hitters for Iota were Wriborg, 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI; Ashby, 2-for-4, a double, an RBI and a stolen base; and Johnson, 1-for-2, an RBI, a stolen base and two runs.
LeBlanc suffered the loss. In 4.2 innings, he surrendered three runs (two earned) on seven hits with six walks, one hit batter and seven strikeouts.

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