Bengals win Region 23 title
After winning its first three games of the Region 23 tournament, the top-ranked Bengals were upset as Meridian Community College rolled to a 6-1 win in the title game.
LSU Eunice then cruised to a 10-3 win over the Eagles on its way to a berth in the NJCAA Division II World Series.
It is the Bengals’ ninth trip to the World Series and first since 2015.
LSUE (54-6) will open the series on Sunday as the Bengals face the winner between No, 8 Brunswick - No. 9 Monroe.
LSUE capitalized on early Meridian miscues, scoring two runs in the first inning after the first two baserunners reach on walks.
Mason Templet sacrificed in Brent Hebert and Slate Fuller doubled home Andrew Sheridan to give the Bengals an early 2-0 lead.
A two-out Evan Keller triple and a wild pitch pushed the game to 3-0 in the second inning.
That was more than enough for a spectacular afternoon for Zach Hester.
The sophomore earned his second win of the Region 23 Tournament with a six inning effort, giving up one earned run on five hits and two walks.
Hester (12-1) struck out five batters on the day and sat down the Eagles in order three times.
Following a run for each team to make it 4-1 through five innings, the Eagles threatened in the sixth with two runners on and one out.
Hester struck out the next two batters to squash the MCC opportunity.
LSU Eunice would break open the game in the bottom of the inning, thanks in large part to Koi Westbrook.
The Carencro High product doubled home Cameron Horton then scored after wild throw on a stolen base attempt allowed Westbrook to score.
Brent Hebert drove in the final run of the inning, singling home Keller to help LSUE take a 7-1 edge.
The Bengals would push their tally to ten runs after a Slate Fuller sacrifice in the seventh and Koi Westbrook reaching safely on an error and then scoring on a wild pitch in the eighth.
Mason Templet and Evan Keller were the lone Bengals to record multi-hit games with Keller scoring three times.
The Eagles would load the bases in the ninth before Justin Barton closed the door with a ground out to Koi Westbrook to seal the victory.
Barton joined Jacob Spell, Austin Bradford and Landon Clifton as relievers to come out of the LSUE bullpen.
Meridian 6, LSUE 1
LSU Eunice had no answer for an impressive Meridian pitching performance as the Eagles upended the Bengals, 6-1.
LSU Eunice managed just four hits off MCC pitching, the third lowest output of the season. The Eagle arms also struck out Bengal bats 15 times, tying a season-high.
The Bengals looked like they would draw first blood after being issued three walks to load the bases with one out.
Meridian would pull Astarter Jackson Bridges and Matthew Harrison would get out of the jam, striking out the next two Bengal batters.
Meridian would get the first runs on the board with three in the third inning off LSUE starter Stephen Koza.
The Eagles pounded four consecutive hits to set the stage for the early lead. Koza was tagged with the loss after 2.1 innings of work.
Brian Fairbanks kept hope alive for LSUE, stringing together four innings of no-hit relief but gave up a run in the seventh off the only LSU Eunice error of the game.
The LSUE offense showed signed of life late, loading the bases in the seventh but coming up empty handed.
Hayden Mixon drove in the only run of the game in the eighth after Slate Fuller led off the frame with a double.
Matthew Harrison picked up the win after striking out eight Bengal batters in 3.2 innings of work.
Hunter Stanley stemmed the tide by striking out five of the seven batters he faced to close the game.
LSUE 13, MGCCC 4
A fast start and efficient finish helped pave the way for LSU Eunice to capture a 13-4 run-rule victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast to advance to the Region 23 Championship Game.
LSUE jumped out in front quickly with back-to-back RBI by Mason Templet and Slate Fuller. After two more runs in the second inning, the Bengals exploded for a six-spot in the third.
LSUE strung together four consecutive run scoring at-bats, capped off by Mason Templet’s stand-up triple to plate Andrew Sheridan to give LSUE a commanding 10-0 lead.
Templet was one of four Bengals to enjoy a multi-hit night, joined by Evan Keller, Sheridan and Hayden Mixon.
Keller paced the LSUE offense with a perfect 3-for-3 night, driving in a pair of runs and scoring twice.
Bengals starting pitcher Dane Dixon worked in traffic through his first three innings on the mound, but fell into trouble in the fourth.
Gulf Coast cut the game to 10-4 thanks in large part to a three-run home run by Ike Williams.
Dixon was not the pitcher of record after tossing those four frames, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three.
Justin Barton squashed any hope of a Bulldog comeback with three scoreless innings of relief. The sophomore dealt three strikeouts while giving up one walk and one hit.
LSUE secured the run-rule victory with three runs in the fifth highlighted by Hayden Mixon’s RBI single.