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Pios grab 5-3A lead with victory over Rayne

RAYNE – Playing a rugged non-district schedule early in the season has paid off for Tim Robichaux and his Notre Dame Pioneers.

After starting the year at 6-9, the Pios (14-11, 5-1) have gone 8-2 over their last 10 games and they now control their own destiny in District 5-AAA following a dramatic 5-4 victory over Rayne Tuesday.

The victory gave the Pios sole possession of first place in district with two games remaining. Rayne (13-7, 5-2) fell into a tie for second place with Crowley.

“It’s a good feeling where we are,” said Robichaux following the victory. “We had to work hard for it tonight against a good team and a good pitcher. Our kids came out and battled and they did what I asked them to do. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”

He wasn’t kidding.

Rayne, which could have sewn up the league title with a victory, trailed 5-2 heading into the final inning but the Wolves refused to go down quietly.

After a flyout to start the seventh, the Wolves recorded three straight hits, cutting the lead to 5-3 while also chasing Notre Dame starter Ryan Leonards from the mound.

Bryant Gilbert entered in relief and gave up a run-scoring single to right by Coy Guidry, leaving the Wolves with runners at second and third with one out.

Gilbert then intentionally walked Tony Dischler to load the bases before recording a strikeout and a flyout to seal the victory.

“We had our chances,” said Rayne coach Benny Fontenot, whose team committed five errors. “If you don’t make the routine plays early in the game against a good ballclub like this, it always comes back to haunt you.

“Across the board, we didn’t do a real good job of executing. We couldn’t execute at the plate or defensively. It seemed like every time we had a chance to make a big play and get out of a jam, we just didn’t execute and that was the name of the game tonight.”

Leonards went six and a third innings to earn the victory. He gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out four.

Gilbert earned the save, going two thirds of an inning. He gave up just one hit and struck out one.

“Ryan’s pitch count got up late in the game, but I thought he did a great job,” said Robichaux. “He gave us a chance to win the game. And Bryant came in and did an awesome job on the mound and at shortstop.”

Dischler suffered the loss, giving up five runs on nine hits and five walks. He struck out eight. It was his second straight defeat.

D.J. Welter’s solo home run in the sixth inning proved to be the game winner. Welter went 3-for-4 on the day to lead the Pios.

Leonards was 2-for-2 with two doubles and an RBI; Matt Savoie was 2-for-4; Zack Abshire had a single and a run driven in and Chance Oustalet beat out an infield single.

Dischler and Jordan Kondert paced the Wolves with two hits and one RBI each. Guidry had a single and a RBI, Boyd Beard doubled and Broc Menard had a single.

The Pios will look to clinch the 5-AAA title tonight when they play host to Crowley at 6 o’clock. A victory by Crowley would create a three-way tie for the title assuming Rayne beats Northwest.

Notre Dame and Crowley each have one league game remaining next week. The Pios travel to Church Point Tuesday while the Gents host Northwest.

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