Girior and Bulldogs roll into the quarterfinals
Ascension Catholic head coach Todd Landry took a chance on Monday evening.
In the Bulldogs' second-round home playoff game against Ascension Episcopal, Landry decided to put David Girior on the mound instead of his All-State ace Landon Clifton.
The gamble paid off. The Blue Gators failed to score a single earned run against Girior en route to a 6-1 Ascension Catholic victory.
"Landon is our best pitcher, and everybody here thought I was going to pitch him, but with the weather delay, he would only have three days rest for the quarterfinal, so we had to roll the dice a little bit. Fortunately, David came out and pitched really well," Landry said.
But even though Clifton only put in one inning of work from the mound, he still made his presence felt.
He orchestrated a huge double-play that ended a serious Blue Gator scoring threat in the top of the fourth. He then followed that play up with a big leadoff single that sparked a five-run inning for the Bulldogs.
"That was a great catch out in centerfield, and then he got the ball in when their runner had taken off and gone to home. We executed, got the ball to third base and got a big double-play," Landry said." Landon's been one of our leading hitters all year. He's been doing a solid job, and he did a great job again tonight."
It was Ascension Episcopal that actually took the opening lead.
In the top of the first, the Blue Gators picked up back-to-back two-outs singles. After the second hit, there was an errant throw to third that allowed a runner to score.
Ascension Catholic quickly answered in the bottom of the inning.
Mason Zeringue led things off with a double down the leftfield line. A bunt single by Ross Ponville moved him to third, and Zeringue was able to score and tie the game on a sac grounder by Clifton.
Tied at 1-1 in the top of the fourth, Girior ran into some trouble.
A base-runner was at third when Austin Arceneaux sent a ball for a ride to centerfield. Clifton made a superb running grab and then alertly gunned down the base-runner at third for the double-play after he failed to tag up.
In the bottom of the inning, Clifton promptly led off with a single and then reached second following a throwing error. Nick Bellina then reached base after another throwing error, and Clifton scored.
Girior then came through with an RBI single. Another run scored when Nick Milano reached base due to the first baseman dropping the ball.
William Dunn then reached base with another Blue Gator fielding error. That mistake allowed another runner to score.
Finally, the inning was concluded with an RBI double by Zeringue into left-center.
Ascension Episcopal's comedy of errors resulted in a five-run flurry for the Bulldogs. With the 6-1 lead, it was smooth sailing for Ascension Catholic.
Clifton came in to close in the seventh. His two strikeouts iced away the Ascension Catholic victory and punched their ticket to the quarterfinals.
From the plate, Clifton went 1-3 with an RBI. Zeringue and Girior both went 2-3 with an RBI.
From the mound, Girior threw six complete innings--only yielding six hits and zero earned runs.
"We went with David Girior, and he threw a heck of a game. He gave us six innings of work and was solid," Landry said. "That was the game right there, setting us up to be able to move forward and be able to throw Landon in the quarterfinals. I can't say enough about that kid. That kid was enormous."
Girior's impressive outing led the Bulldogs to the quarterfinals for a third straight season. It was just last year when they came just one run away from a trip to Sulphur for the Baseball State Tournament.
"This has been their goal since the beginning," Landry said. "The last two years, this team has gone to the quarterfinals and lost. So, their goal from the beginning has been to advance, but we're going to take it one game at a time. We play a good team in Vermillion Catholic on Saturday, so we'll see what happens."