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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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Tarpons fall to West Ouachita

Tarpons fall to West Ouachita

The South Lafourche High School baseball team didn’t make it to Sulphur. But they still had one heck of a ride – unquestionably the best season in the history of the program.

The Tarpons fell to West Ouachita in game three of the LHSAA Class 4A State Quarterfinals on Saturday, ending the team’s season with a 27-8 record – one win short of Sulphur.

South Lafourche won game one of the series 3-1 on Friday night, taking momentum into Saturday. But that’s where it fizzled.

The Chiefs won two games Saturday – the first 6-0, then an 11-1 win in the late-afternoon winner-take-all game, which punched their ticket to the next round.

The Tarpons were initially somber in defeat with a lot of tears flowing the faces of the team’s large senior group.

But after a long meeting with coach Andrew Ravaglia after the game, those frowns were turned upside down as players realized that they were part of an epic journey – one which captivated the local community and had fans on the edges of their seats throughout the year.

“We gave it all we had,” Ravaglia said. “We just came up a little short today. West Ouachita earned it, but that’s not taking anything away from our guys. I told our seniors that this is something that nobody will ever take away from them … 18 wins was our school record, well this group got 27. We were the district runner-up. We made the quarterfinals. Not in their wildest dreams do I think they thought that we could see that this year. But that’s a credit to how hard they came in and worked.”

The Tarpons were oh so close to getting it done. They won the opener on Friday on the powerful left arm of Blake Ougel. He worked all seven innings against the Chiefs on Friday night, limiting them throughout the game – in part because of his prowess, but also with the help of timely defense.

The Tarpons turned two double plays in the game – one in the first inning and the other in the seventh, which poured ice on West Ouachita rallies.

The pitching and defense enabled South Lafourche to scratch across single runs in the first, second and fourth innings to ride to victory.

But on day two of the series, it was West Ouachita that got the timely hits, the pitching and the defense.

In the top of the first inning of game two, South Lafourche loaded the bases, but didn’t score – a prelude for how the day would go for the Tarpons, who had several chances with runners in scoring position in the game, but nothing to show for it.

While the Tarpons couldn’t get a timely hit, the Chiefs did, scratching across runs on pitcher Kasey Guidry to storm out to an early lead on the way to the 6-0 win.

That set up a winner-take-all decisive game three later in the day, which also went the way of the Chiefs. They scored two runs in the first inning off starting pitcher Mark Pitre, but the Tarpons appeared poised to bounce back, again loading the bases in the first inning.

But much like in game two, Chiefs pitcher Peyton Parker got out of the trouble, striking out Pitre at the plate to end the rally.

Then, the Tarpons ran out of arms.

The Chiefs scored multiple runs in every, single inning of the game, which was ended after five innings because of LHSAA mercy rules.

The Tarpons had a lone run in the fourth inning on a double by Jack Blanchard, which trimmed the lead to 9-1.

But the Tarpons never got closer, which ended the team’s season and spoiled a huge weekend crowd.

After the game, the Chiefs rejoiced, while the Tarpons wondered what might have been. South Lafourche players met with Ravaglia for upwards of 20 minutes after the game, sharing emotions about the season.

After the game, the coach looked back on his first year in Galliano, thanking his senior class, their parents and all of the Tarpon fans for the memories. He said the Tarpons have a lot of holes to fill in 2019, but added that the team also has some talented underclassmen who are ready to fit the bill.

“We hope this is the standard,” Ravaglia said. “We hope to get to this point year after year. Some years, of course, it won’t be possible. But some years, we think we can maybe even go beyond that and someday, hopefully, we can bring that state championship banner.”