Bulldogs' season ends in extra-innings thriller

Kyle Riviere

Ascension Catholic came into Monday evening's quarterfinal matchup with sixth-seeded Central Catholic as one of the hottest teams in the state--winning nine of their previous 10 games.

But their bats abruptly went cold against Central Catholic pitcher Greg Leger. Bulldog pitcher Landon Clifton held up his end of the bargain as the two teams remained deadlocked at 1-1 after seven innings.

It wasn't until the 10th inning that the game came to an end. A T.J. Ruffin RBI double lifted Central Catholic to their fourth straight state tournament appearance while the Bulldogs were forced to end their season in bitter heartbreak.

Extra-inning drama was nothing new to the two teams. They met earlier in the year in a tournament game at Central Catholic. The Eagles won that one, 5-4, in eight innings.

Things looked to be heading in the same direction early on as Central Catholic took the lead in the top of the first inning.

Clifton walked the first two Eagle batters. Stefano Guarisco eventually came home on a single by Thomas Garber to give Central Catholic the 1-0 advantage.

Ascension Catholic tried to respond in the bottom half of the inning as they quickly loaded the bases after three straight Leger walks.

However, the hurler escaped the tough jam with a strikeout and a little help from his defense. The Eagles turned a double-play to move on with the one-run lead.

The Bulldogs finally tied the game up in the bottom of the fourth.

James Martin waked to start the inning and eventually came home after a Charlie Genaloni RBI single.

After tying the game at 1-1, neither team could get the best of the opposing pitcher. With the game deadlocked after seven, the contest went into extra innings--just like their March 14 matchup had.

After scoreless eighth and ninth innings, Central Catholic finally ended the drought.

Samuel Guarisco led off the 10th with a single and not long afterward, Ruffin came through with the RBI to give the lead back to the Eagles at 2-1.

It was a lead they were able to hold in the bottom of the inning to punch their ticket to Sulphur for the semifinals, where they'll meet seventh-seeded St. Edmund.

Unfortunately for Ascension Catholic, their season ends at 16-17 overall.

Though they finish with a losing record, it was a memorable season for the Bulldogs.

After starting the year with a treacherous schedule and falling into an 0-6 hole, Ascension Catholic finished the regular season on a 14-10 tear that included a 6-1 run in their final seven games.