Bulldogs roll to game-win win over St. Martin’s
On Friday night, Ascension Catholic came one win closer to a seventh straight trip to the state quarterfinals.
Hosting game one of a best-of-three first-round playoff series against St. Martin’s Episcopal, the Bulldogs came out sharp, jumping on top of the Saints, 8-0, after two innings. They eventually cruised to an 11-4 victory.
“In the last few games, we had some slow starts, so I asked them to come out with some intensity tonight, and I thought we did that,” Ascension Catholic head coach Gee Cassard said. “I thought we were clean on defense early on. We had some good at-bats and extended the lead.”
The second-seeded Bulldogs lived up to their billing early on.
In the first inning, they quickly loaded the bases after infield singles by Jacob Dunn and Bryce Leonard and a walk by Lex Melancon.
From there, one run scored on a passed ball, another scored on a grounder by Jacques Husers and the last base-runner was sent home on a single by Baylor Leonard.
But the onslaught didn’t end there.
Demarco Harry singled, and a run scored on a Saint fielding error. Another Bulldog run scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-0 after one.
In the second inning, Dunn again led off with a single. His courtesy runner, Layton Melancon eventually scored on a passed ball.
To end the inning, Husers produced an RBI single, and Baylor Leonard produced an RBI triple to give Ascension Catholic a commanding 8-0 advantage.
It looked like it was going to be a five-inning game, but the Bulldogs got sloppy in the third.
Dunn, Ascension Catholic’s starting pitcher, walked two batters and hit another. Then the Bulldog defense committed two costly errors, allowing St. Martin’s to score two runs.
In the fifth, two more Bulldog errors allowed the Saints to scratch a run and trim the deficit to 8-3.
At the bottom of the frame, it was St. Martin’s turn to struggle defensively.
The bases were loaded after Harry was hit by a pitch, Dunn walked and Joel Landry reached on a fielding error.
Harry later scored on a grounder by Brooks Leonard, and two other runs scored on a Saints error to make it 11-3.
That three-run flurry was enough for Ascension Catholic to pull away and collect the game-one victory. Kaleb Reddicks came in and closed the game from the mound.
From the plate, the Bulldogs were led by Baylor Leonard as he went 2-4 with two RBIs. Dunn was 2-3 with a walk.
Outside of a rough third inning, Dunn was steady from the mound. He pitched six complete, surrendering six hits and striking out four.
“When you have two big innings like that and jump up eight, sometimes you can lose your focus as a pitcher,” Cassard said. “I thought he might have tried to be a little too fine there. Walks and errors created some problems for him, but he minimized damage, and he’s been solid for us all year. He’s our guy on the mound, and we know what we’re going to get every time he goes out there. He battled tonight and got us the ‘W’”
Cassard was happy his team won, but he didn’t like how they played after the first two innings.
“I was disappointed with how we finished it. We took our foot off of the gas a little bit,” Cassard said. “St. Martin’s is a team that’s going to keep battling; it doesn’t matter how much they’re down. They’re really scrappy. We had some walks and errors that let them hang around. We can’t do that tomorrow. I’m happy we got the win, and I’m happy that we showed up early, but we have to play a more complete game tomorrow.”
Ascension Catholic will host game two at noon on Saturday. Game three will be played right afterwards, if necessary.