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Running the Gauntlet

Written by John Dupont on .

Gauntlet-edited

The Brusly High baseball team may not like the outcome, but the Panthers got exactly what they wanted last week.

BHS ran through the gauntlet against the caliber of competition they want for the upcoming Class 3A playoffs, even though the Panthers came up short twice in three outings between Thursday and Saturday.

Brusly split the two-game series against District 7-3A rival University High and dropped a non-league contest against longtime foe Livonia.

The Panthers defeated University 4-0 Thursday and fell 4-3 in extra innings Friday.

The gauntlet continued Saturday when a six-run rally propelled 10th-ranked Livonia to a 13-5 win over the Panthers.

"You want to face the competition to get ready for playoffs, and we faced two very good teams," Brusly coach Tait Dupont said.

The good news: Brusly maintained its No. 5 spot in the 3A power rankings.

In action against Livonia, the Panthers watched the Wildcats break loose with six runs in the fifth inning en route to the win.

Livonia led 3-1 going into the fifth. The Wildcats scored their first run when Henry Fresch reached home on a Malcolm Dedrick triple to left.

Dedrick was called safe on a steal at home that riled Dupont and many of the fans.

"I don't gripe about a strike or ball, but that was a bad call ... no doubt," he said.

The Panthers picked up a run in the bottom of the inning when Connor Manola scored on a Beau Witty sacrifice.

After a scoreless third frame, Livonia’s Austin Reich scored on a Ty Gurr sacrifice that put the Wildcats ahead 3-1.

The Panthers loaded the bases in the fourth, but a diving catch by Dedrick ended the inning with runners stranded.

"Had that not happened, it could've been an entirely different ballgame," Dupont said.

The grind of a back-to-back against University and use of the top three pitchers against the Cubs proved costly when the Panthers faced Livonia, he said.

"We had to put in our number-four pitcher against Austin Reich, their top pitcher," Dupont said. "But I give Livonia credit ... that was a great game, it's a great rivalry and the atmosphere was awesome, a real playoff atmosphere."

Panther ace pitcher Luke LeBlanc threw a no-hitter in the Thursday battle against the Cubs.

BHS got all it needed from a four-run rally in the bottom of the fourth.

Kwanston Adkins finished 2-for-3, Evan Daigle had a double and Austin Watts notched two RBIs to power the Panthers.

LeBlanc (5-2) struck out five.

In Friday's game, University scored on the last play in the bottom of the seventh to spoil a Panther sweep.

BHS broke the ice with a run in the top of the fourth, but the Cubs responded with three later in the inning.

The Panthers chalked two runs in the fifth for a 3-3 tie, which remained until the final frame.

Brennan Allen, Blake Manola and Connor Manola scored the three BHS runs.

Austin Watts and Beau Witty each had one RBI.

A Watts single drove home Blake Manola for Brusly's first run. Connor Manola scored on a Witty sacrifice fly to right in the fifth, while Allen reached home on a passed ball with two outs.

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