Ascension Christian earns important win as playoffs loom

Kyle Riviere
First baseman Angelo Montalbano and Ascension Christian are currently ranked No. 19 in the power points. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

It's the final week of the baseball season, and Ascension Christian has their sights set on making the playoffs for the first time in three years.

The Lions got off to a tremendous start to the season. They exploded out of the gates with a 7-1 record but ever since, things have not come easy.

The district has proven to be quite the challenge for them. St. John has had their number--beating them both times they've played by a combined margin of 23-4.

Parish rival Ascension Catholic blanked them, 4-0, in their first matchup. With those emphatic league losses, it appeared they would end up going another year sitting at home while other teams competed in the postseason.

However, things changed drastically last week when the Lions beat Ascension Catholic in the rematch, 3-1.

Ascension Christian took a 1-0 lead in the first, but the Bulldogs tied things up in the third.

It was in the fifth inning when the Lions scored two runs and eventually closed out the 3-1 victory.

Payton Bahlinger earned the win from the mound and from the plate, Micah Freeman led the way as he went 1-3 with an RBI. Seth Mangrum also went 1-3 with a run batted in.

The win was huge for the Lions' playoff chances as it improved their district mark to 4-3 and helped them remain right in the thick of things in regards to power points. They currently sit at No. 19.

"At this point, it has been hard to gauge how good we are because with the weather, we haven't been able to practice or play much, but I thought we played our best game of the season against Ascension Catholic," Ascension Christian head coach Paul Burgard said. "Hopefully, that's a sign that we've stabilized and become a consistent team.

"I think we can be pretty good if that's the case. I think we can go into the playoffs as a hot team."

Ascension Christian did continue a tough non-district schedule soon afterward when they took an 11-1 loss to 2A Episcopal on the chin.

The Lions could only muster three hits in the defeat. Those hits came from Bahlinger, Josh Poirrier and Mason Braud.

However, the final portion of their district schedule is favorable, and Coach Burgard likes how his team has played with the playoffs about to start.

"I hope we can play consistent baseball. We know we're going to get good defense and solid pitching," Burgard said. "Other than that, we have to make other teams try to beat us instead of us beating ourselves. I think that if we do that, we will be very competitive."