The Ascension Catholic baseball team made school history last Wednesday as they beat No. 13 St. Mary's in a home playoff game to punch their ticket to the state quarterfinals for the fourth straight year.
The Ascension Catholic baseball team made school history last Wednesday as they beat No. 13 St. Mary’s in a home playoff game to punch their ticket to the state quarterfinals for the fourth straight year.
The fourth-seeded Bulldogs headed into the playoffs with a 19-12 record and hungry to make a splash after losing two pivotal games to St. John that ended their reign as district champions. Instead, they were forced to settle for third place.
Despite their misfortunes, Ascension Catholic still headed into the newly-formed Division IV playoffs with the high seeding and first-round home game.
On paper, it looked like the Bulldogs would cruise into the quarterfinals, but early on, St. Mary’s (14-17) showed that they were not intimidated.
They took the lead in the top of the first inning as a Bulldog fielding error allowed Cole Zeagler to score and give them the 1-0 advantage.
That lead wouldn’t last for long.
In the bottom of the inning, an Ascension Catholic runner reached base after being hit by a pitch. This led to LSU-Eunice signee Nick Bellina belting a two-run homer to give the Bulldogs the lead.
Two more runners reached base for Ascension Catholic. One was brought home on an RBI single by Rodney Blanchard.
The bases were then loaded for John Mire—who scored the Bulldogs’ final run of the inning with a sac grounder.
The flurry gave the Bulldogs a 4-1 lead that they would never relinquish.
The icing on the victory was provided by Mason Zeringue as he came up with a two-run homer in the sixth inning. It sealed a 7-2 Ascension Catholic victory.
LSU-Eunice signee Landon Clifton pitched a complete game in the win. He surrendered seven hits but no earned runs. He struck out 11 batters.
The Bulldogs produced nine hits from the plate.
Bellina led the way as he went 2-4 with a homer and two RBIs. Both Mire and Blanchard went 2-3 with three RBIs between them.
The victory gave Ascension Catholic 20 wins for the season, but most importantly, it put them through to the state quarterfinals for a fourth straight year.
This time around, the Bulldogs will be looking to get over the hump and reach the semifinals.
To do that, they’ll have to get past visiting fifth-seeded Catholic High of Pointe Coupee on Wednesday.
It was just a week earlier that Ascension Catholic hosted the Hornets in their regular season finale. The Bulldogs won that game, 6-2.
—Tommy Bennett contributed to this article