For the fourth time this season, the Hicks Pirates had the Grace Christian Warriors on the ropes.

For the fourth time this season, the Hicks Pirates had the Grace Christian Warriors on the ropes. And for the fourth time this season, mistakes on routine plays cost the Pirates dearly. With the game tied and two outs in the top of the seventh, a routine popout fell to the earth, allowing Grace Christian to regain the lead in a 9-7 victory over Hicks in the Class C semifinals on Friday at Bringhurst Field in Alexandria. With the win, third-seeded Grace Christian (25-8) faced two-time defending state champion and top-ranked Claiborne Christian (17-12) in the Class C state finals on Saturday. Hicks (16-9) owned the early advantage. Starter Caleb LaCaze worked a perfect first inning to bring the Pirates up to bat with a little momentum in the bottom of the frame. Zakk Rogerson drew an opening walk from Grace Christian starter Daniel Margheim and eventually took third when Austin Wilson reached on an error, giving the Pirates runners at second and third. Margheim recovered with a strikeout, but allowed a two-run double off the bat of Ty Durbin, giving Hicks a 2-0 lead. LaCaze was hit by a pitch and an RBI-single to center by Michael Borders pushed Hicks out to a 3-0 lead. Ty Williams followed with a walk to load the bases with one out, only to have both Anthony Gonzales and Nathan Boswell pop out to end the threat. Grace Christian responded in the top of the second, taking advantage of some Hicks errors to take the lead. Patrick Murphy doubled to lead off the frame, but LaCaze fanned Jeremy Fontenot and forced David Slater to flyout to the catcher for the second out. Justin Reynaud was walked and Colten Murphy was hit by a pitch to load the bases for the Warriors. Austin Waters drew a walk to score Patrick Murphy, cutting the deficit to 3-1. Two pitches later, Chaston LaCaze hit a ground ball to Boswell at short, who fired to second baseman Dillan Basco to get the force. However, Waters was safe and Reynaud scored to get Grace Christian to within a run, 3-2. Back-to-back errors on ground balls allowed the Warriors to score three more runs, taking a 5-3 advantage into the bottom half of the frame. Hicks answered back as Wilson singled with one out, advanced to third on a single up the middle by Seth Wellman and scored on a bunt single from Durbin, cutting the Grace Christian lead to one, 5-4. With Wellman at second and Durbin on first with just one out, Margheim worked out of the jam by forcing Caleb LaCaze to popout to first and recording a strikeout to thwart the Hicks' threat. The Warriors put together a solid threat in the third, but Chaston LaCaze flew out to Rogerson in center with runners at second and third, leaving the game at 5-4. The Pirates tied the game in the bottom of the frame when Gonzales was walked with one out and took second on a sacrifice by Boswell. Rogerson followed with an RBI-single down the first base line, tying the game at 5-5. In the bottom of the fourth, the Pirates reclaimed the lead and chased Margheim off the mound. With one out, Durbin drew a walk and reached third when Caleb LaCaze doubled to the wall, which prompted the pitching change. Fontenot moved in from center to take over on the mound and immediately picked up a second out as Durbin was tagged out on an attempted squeeze play. But the Pirates still took the lead when Borders singled up the middle to plate LaCaze for a 6-5 advantage. Things took a turn for the worse for the Pirates in the top of the fifth when LaCaze, who had limited Grace Christian to just two hits, had to be removed from the game as he was suffering from muscle cramps in his right leg. Hicks made wholesale changes, moving Wilson from catcher to pitcher and Gonzales had to move from third to catcher. Dustin Phillips entered the game in LaCaze's place in the batting order and took over in left field, while Durbin moved to first from left field and Wellman from first to third. The Warriors took advantage by scoring two times in the top of the fifth, moving out to a 7-6 lead. Reynaud brought in a run on a groundout and another run was scored on an error, giving Grace Christian the advantage. The Pirates had the opportunity to blow the game open in both the fifth and sixth innings. Hicks loaded the bases with one out in the fifth and failed to score. It appeared as if the Pirates were going to score when Durbin laced a sharp liner into right field with two outs, only to see Morgan Briggs make an outstanding diving catch to prevent the big inning. Hicks managed to tie it up in the sixth with an RBI-single off the bat of Boswell with one out. With the bases loaded again, Pirate head coach Gary Williams decided to roll the dice and try another squeeze play. Rogerson made contact with the pitch, but the ball popped into the air. Fontenot reeled in the catch and fired to third for the double play, ending the inning with the game tied at 7-7. In the top of the seventh, the Pirates recorded two quick outs as Reynaud grounded out to Basco and Colten Murphy struck out. Waters worked a walk and hustled to third when Chaston LaCaze doubled to center. On the ensuing pitch, Briggs popped the ball high into the air in the infield. Wilson and Durbin converged on the ball, but if fell to the earth, allowing Waters to score for an 8-7 lead. LaCaze later scored on a passed ball to give Grace Christian a two-run advantage. The Pirates had a chance in the bottom of the seventh to get back in it. Wellman was hit by a pitch with one out, but Fontenot fanned the final two batters he faced to secure the win. Fontenot got the victory, going the final 3.1 innings. He gave up one run on three hits with three strikeouts, four walks and two hit batsmen. Margheim worked 3.2 innings, giving up six runs on seven hits with two strikeouts, four walks and one hit batter. Chaston LaCaze was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored for the Warriors, while Reynaud was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Patrick Murphy had the other hit for the Warriors. Wilson suffered the loss for the Pirates as he pitched three innings, giving up three runs on two hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Caleb LaCaze worked four innings, giving up six runs on two hits with four strikeouts, walked three and hit three batters. Borders went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored for the Pirates, while Durbin was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored. The Pirates stranded 13 runners on base, including seven in scoring position. Grace Christian left nine runners on base.