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Creek prevails in playoff opener over Hanson

Cougars win first playoff game since 2019
Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Photo by Darrell James Kade Luder allowed 1 earned run in 4.1 innings over Hanson Memorial.

The No. 17 seeded Cedar Creek Cougars (16-18) played playoff spoiler in the first round of the Division IV select postseason, winning 5-4 at No. 16 Hanson Memorial - the program's first playoff win since 2019.

Freshman starting pitcher Kade Luker once again rose to the occasion, allowing one hit and one earned run through 4 1/3 innings, all while racking up 3 strikeouts. Six walks hurt him down the stretch, but senior Max Brister shut down any chance Hanson Memorial had with 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just 2 hits to go with 4 strikeouts and no walks.

First-year head coach Chad Yates was proud of his group's ability to rally from an early 3-0 deficit after the third and make history for themselves and their school.

"I can't even put it into words," Yates said. "I'm so happy for the seniors to get to experience a playoff atmosphere. It was electric. They had the LA Tech commit in Judice who started was everything they said he was going to be. Obviously, he ran into some command trouble and our guys battled. Just like they've always done, they kept themselves in the ballgame and within striking distance and we pulled it out."

Noah Durrett's HBP RBI and an RBI single from Brett Bell cut into the deficit in the fourth, only for the Cougars to eventually tie the game at 4-4 in the sixth thanks to an RBI double to center from Ladd Thompson to score Jackson Mock - with Thompson later scoring on a passed ball.

Creek brought home the deciding run thanks to a two-out, infield error by Hanson in the top of the seventh, allowing Trent Franklin to score. 

Brister finished the job with a one, two, three bottom of the seventh with two strikeouts and a game-ending ground out to Thompson at shortstop.

Yates praised both of his pitchers, Luker and Brister, for giving Creek a shot to win, especially in the face of abnormal travel and routine.

"He went out and battled," Yates said of Luker. "It was hot and humid. He wasn't as sharp as he could have been but he battled and just competed. That's all we can ask for. And then you got Max Brister, a senior, coming in after and going to work and continues to pitch well for us. He was big for us."

Creek's persistent bats got to Hanson starter and Louisiana Tech commit Ethan Judice, putting up 2 runs through 3 1/3 innings for the future Bulldog. When Hanson went to the bullpen, the wheels fell off as Creek put up six hits and walked twice.

Thompson and Franklin each had two hits for the Cougars, while Luker, Blake Wade, Brett Bell, and Jackson Mock all had singles.

The Cougars will travel to the No. 1 seed Opelousas Catholic Vikings (26-6) for the second round.