Leesville and DeRidder are each chasing Tioga in the district standing, with the winner of the three-game series pulling into second place in Class 4A, District 3 and possibly taking first place, depending on the outcome of Tioga's series with Grant.
DeRidder pulled ahead in the series with a 9-4 win over Leesville on Tuesday night at DeRidder High School.
"We haven't really thought much about the district standings," DeRidder head coach Chad Menard said. "We dropped two out of three to Tioga, and we've had some quality opponents as we went along. Leesville scared me. John Harmon is a great pitcher. Our guys came out and really impressed me."
The Wampus Cats dug themselves into a hole early, as the Dragons scored two runs on a pair of errors in the second inning.
Leading 3-0, DeRidder scored two runs on an error in the fourth inning then scored another error next play.
Parker Taylor took advantage of the extra outs, drilling a line drive to right field for a triple to score Laron White to go up 7-0 in the fourth.
Taylor scored on the next at-bat with a sacrifice fly by Jakob Broocks to increase the lead to 8.
Leesville scored its first run of the game on an RBI single to center field by Harley Gill and added its second as John Harmon scored on DeRidder's lone error in the sixth inning.
Harmon got the start on the mound for Leesville, throwing four innings, allowing 10 hits and giving up one earned run.
"John did his job," Leesville head coach Oscar Reed said. "With six errors, you're not going to beat anybody. We put ourselves in a bad spot from the start."
With the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth, Dragon pitcher Dakota Courtney worked his way out of the jam, striking out the next two batters and catching a line drive to end the inning.
Courtney gave up seven hits and struck out eight over six innings.
"He's throwing on shorter rest than normal," Menard said. "We tried to set up the rotation where he can throw for Senior Night and the first round of the playoffs. Normally, he'd be the guy that completes it, but we wanted to give him some more rest. He's a bulldog that gets the job done."
In the top of the seventh with two outs, Leesville threatened again, scoring two runs on an RBI double by Gill and Noah Allain.
"The only positive is the guys didn't quit," Reed said. "That was expected. I knew they weren't going to quit. I didn't have these guys ready to play, and that's on me."
Gill and Allain each went 3-for-4, and Eli Dupree went 2-for-4 for Leesville.
However, DeRidder reliever Gage Johnson got out of the inning with a ground ball to end the game.
Chipper Menard went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Lane Neely went 2-for-3 for DeRidder.
"What stood out to me was our base running," Menard said. "We ran the bases well and put some pressure on them. When they made mistakes, our offense kept putting balls into play. We capitalized on the errors and the walks."
Tuesday's game was also Senior Night for the eight seniors for the Dragons.
"We were focused tonight on picking up a win for them," Menard said. "They have been shown leadership throughout the year and have a sacrificed a lot for the program."
For the Wampus Cats, Reed felt as if he was not being heard by the umpires, making it harder to get for his guys to succeed.
"I don't make excuses, but I'm going to call a spade a spade," Reed said. "It's kind of hard to compete when you can't even get a fair conversation with your officiating.
"I hate the fact that I'm even talking about this. I told them that it's not about me. I would rather not be out here talking to you, but I want to know what we can do, so I can tell the guys to make the adjustment to your style of your calling."
Leesville and DeRidder will play a doubleheader Thursday with game No. 1 starting at 4 p.m. at Leesville High School.
"I'm looking forward to practice tomorrow," Reed said. "We can still take two out of three. Game one is the biggest game of our season. It's on me. I need to do a better job of getting the guys ready."