WATSON – Zachary catcher Alex Milazzo hadn’t hit a home run all season. But when his team needed a run, he provided.
Milazzo hit his first homer of the year in the seventh to break a 3-3 deadlock and then the LSU signee homered again in the ninth to set up the Broncos for their 5-4 win over Live Oak on Tuesday night.
“He’s a big-time player,” Zachary coach Jacob Fisher said. “I honestly believe that home runs are mis-hits. He wasn’t trying to hit a home run there; he was trying to hit a single and it ended up being a home run. It came up big there, twice.”
Zachary (22-8, 6-2 District 4-5A) reached the scoreboard in the fourth inning when Brady Hernandez scored two runs on a single through the infield after an infield single from Milazzo and a double from Maverick McClure.
Live Oak (22-10, 5-4) surged ahead in the fifth inning when the Eagles recorded five straight hits with one out, scoring two on a bases-loaded single from Rhett Rosevear before taking a lead on a successful safety squeeze from Cameron Dickerson.
Zachary answered back with a run to tie the game after back-to-back singles from McClure and Hernandez and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out. Pinch-hitter Devin Hannum hit into what would have been a tailor-made double play, but the Eagles couldn’t turn the back half and the run came across to score.
Milazzo gave the Broncos the lead again in the top of the seventh when he blasted a no-doubt solo home run deep into right field. Down to its last two outs and needing a run, Live Oak’s Brant Smith hit a solo home run to tie the game at 4-4 and send the game to extra innings.
In his next at-bat, Milazzo doubled his season home run total and gave the Broncos a 5-4 lead, one they would hold on to this time.
“I just tried to clear my mind,” Milazzo said. “I go up there to compete and get my best team at-bat as I can. I really thought that’s a product of hard work and dedication in the cages and late nights grinding out at-bats.”
Both coaches praised the tenacity of their team in the back-and-forth affair. The game had the atmosphere and intensity of playoff game, and both teams played like it.
“We both made plays,” Live Oak coach Jesse Cassard said. “It was just a great high school game. It felt like it was a quarterfinal. I think both teams will be in the quarterfinals, if you ask me. That’s what happens in the playoffs. It only prepares both teams for what’s going to happen in a week. I loved it. We love that emotion. Neither team gave up, they just won the game.”
Said Fisher, “This team has continued to fight all year long. We’ve been down, we’ve been up, we’ve had teams come back on us. They continue to grind out at-bats and continue to make plays. I really like the toughness of this team.”