Gators slide by Bulldogs in opener

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
St. Amant’s Blake LeBouef slides into first base, avoiding the tag of Ascension Catholic’s Joel Landry

After a layoff of nearly a year, the baseball season began this week, and there was a great parish matchup in Donaldsonville as Ascension Catholic hosted St. Amant.

Although the game featured some early-season miscues, the pitching was impressive as both teams combined for just 11 hits.

In the end, a three-run sixth inning gave St. Amant a 4-1 lead, and they were able to hold on to earn a 4-2 victory.

"I had butterflies all day," St. Amant head coach Brandon Bravata said. "This was my 186th game as a head coach, and I still get nervous all the time for the first game. Regardless, we hadn't played since March 13 of last year, so it feels really good to get out here. 

"And I just want to say that our program has the utmost respect for Ascension Catholic, and we always will. They've built something great under Todd Landry and now Coach Cassard. They're a really good opponent. Our kids have not taken them lightly, and I don't think we ever will. I'm proud of  our team for that."

The Gators took the lead in the top of the second inning.

Leadoff batter Reggie Hebert was hit by Jacob Dunn's pitch, and Evan Bourgeois later reached base following a two-outs fielding error by the Bulldogs.

St. Amant took advantage of these mistakes. Reed Brignac came through with an RBI double to give the Gators a 1-0 lead.

Ascension Catholic answered in the bottom of the fourth.

Baylor Leonard got on base following a Gator throwing error, and he was eventually sent home with a single by Layton Melancon.

With the game tied at 1-1 heading into the sixth inning, the St. Amant offense finally got things going.

Cole Poirrier reached base on a fielder's choice, and Bourgeois walked. That set the table for Brignac, who cracked a two-RBI triple.

Brignac then scored on a wild pitch to give St. Amant a 4-1 lead.

Ascension Catholic cut into the deficit in the bottom of the inning. Lex Melancon singled, and Brennan Simoneaux cut it to 4-2 with an RBI single.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs had two men on as Bryce Leonard reached base on a fielder's choice and Joel Landry singled.

Jackson Landry stepped to the plate representing the winning run, but Brignac struck him out to close out the victory for the Gators.

Brignac had a huge game for St. Amant. At the plate, he had two of the Gators' four hits. He went 2-4 with three RBIs. At the mound, he threw two scoreless innings to end the contest.

"Reed is one of the most competitive kids I've ever had the opportunity to coach," Bravata said. "He gets what we try to teach and the mentality that we try to play with. He's the catalyst for our entire team. He's a leader. With that being said, our entire team was extremely competitive tonight. I liked the way they battled. I'm proud of how tough we were tonight in all facets."

Slade Zeppuhar started the game from the mound for the Gators and threw five complete innings, giving up just four hits and no earned runs.

Baylor Leonard was 2-4, and Simoneaux was 2-3 with an RBI. Layton Melancon was 1-3 with an RBI.

Dunn pitched five and a third innings for the Bulldogs and surrendered just three hits and one run. 

"We're not swinging it like I think we will. I think we're gonna be grinding out games like this for a while, until it starts to click," Bravata said. "We're just going to keep battling every day and try to get better. We know we're going to play in ball games like this a lot, so being in games like this tonight will help us in the long run."