The St. John Eagles baseball team was only a single hit away from winning the state championship earlier this month in Sulphur, but its players consider themselves to be winners nonetheless.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh and the tying run on base, the team’s home run leader came to bat while Eagle fans held their breath in the stands.
It was like many of St. John’s games throughout the season – this one was also going to go down to the wire. The team’s home run slugger Landon LeBlanc, in his last at-bat with the Eagles, popped up an infield fly, allowing Ascension Catholic High to win the trophy, 4-3.
Not only the players but their coach, Jason Kinchen, expressed great pride in the Eagles’ accomplishments this season.
“Last Friday night (the night of the championship game) was a special day,” he told his team while handing out awards last Wednesday. “There’s was lots of energy flowing and I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
“There was a lot to learn from that game and the more times that you find yourself in that situation, the more successful you will be,” Kinchen continued. “…It’s something that you earn from.”
“It’s something that you had the pleasure of experiencing an it’s something you’ll never forget and at the end of the day, it will make you a better person,” he said.
“We absolutely, 100 percent, have the opportunity to go back into that same situation next year,” Kinchen said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
LeBlanc expressed his appreciation for the appreciation the Eagles’ baseball team received throughout the season
“I’d like to thank all the fans and the community for all the support we’ve had this year,” he said. “The best of luck to these guys in the future.”
LeBlanc, who received numerous awards in a presentation program last Wednesday, announced through his Twitter account over the weekend he will be playing for the Northwestern State University Devils’ baseball team next year.
Tre’ Dupont wanted to thank his teammates for their hard work during the season.
“I want to thank my team for everything they’ve done this year,” he said. “I’d say we had a successful year.”
“We had many goals and we broke some records – we had many accomplishments,” Dupont said. “And as a team, over the season we became closer.”
Some even said they regarded their teammates as brothers when the season was over, like Adam Blanchard.
“We weren’t that close as a team at the beginning of the season but by the time the season ended, we had formed a brotherhood,” he said.
Collin Barbee was another team member who thought of his teammates as brothers.
“All around it was a great season,” he said. “Playing with your brothers is the best feeling ever. This is probably one of the best teams I’ll ever be a part of and I just really enjoyed this year.”
To a man, the Eagles were proud of their season.
“All around we had a great season,” said Justin Rivet. “We didn’t achieve our main goal of winning a state championship but we got really close.”
“It hurt to lose in the championship game, but we’ve got some good young talent and we’ll be back again next year,” he continued.
Reese Barrilleaux, who spent many games on the mound, said the season dispelled the doubters.
“Before the season many people doubted us and I think throughout the season, we just diminished all the doubts,” he said. “We made it to the state tournament, beat a very good team in the semifinals and came up short in the championship game but I couldn’t be any more proud of my brothers.”
“We had some guys step up this season and in think next year, with a lot of returning starters, we should be just as good if not better,” Barrilleaux said. “I have a lot of faith in the coaches making that happen too.”
Brennan Little, who said he “loved these guys,” was philosophical in his response to the season.
“We had a great year, bad ending, but it didn’t take away from the success of the rest of the season,” he said.
Like their teammates, Joseph Kirkland and Adam Theriot were proud of the Eagles’ season, their third time in history to make it to the championship and end as runners-up, and believed the team’s future was bright.
“I’m really excited about how well we finished the year in the playoffs,” Kirkland said, who said he will be a much improved starting pitcher next year. “I think we’re really going to have a good team next year.”
“This year we had a great season,” Theriot said. "I really enjoyed playing with all of my brothers.”
“We’re losing five really good seniors who helped us this year, but we have six returning starters and I know we’re going to go back to the state playoffs,” he continued.