Bulldogs best Rams

Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 25, 2014


LAPLACE – West St. John looked to head into the postseason on a winning note while playing the role of spoiler Thursday, but Ascension Catholic overcame the Rams and left Edgard with a 10-4 victory and a share of the District 8-1A championship. 

The Bulldogs needed the victory to tie St. John-Plaquemine for the district crown. 

Rams’ ace Austin Howard did not start the game after West St. John coach Greg Joseph said the senior right-hander reported a bit of arm soreness. But after Ascension Catholic scored nine runs over the first two innings of play, Howard gave it a go and finished the final five innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out seven. 

The Rams (10-9, 5-3) trailed 10-2 early but West St. John had two chances to rally after loading the bases with no outs in each of the fourth and fifth innings.

In the fourth, WSJ’s Lorenz Pierre walked, then Rashaan Smith reached on an error and Da’Jon Taylor and Howard were each hit by pitches, forcing in a run to make it 10-3. 

But then Ascension Catholic coach Todd Landry called upon knuckerballer Grant Montero to relieve starter Nick Bellina; Montero walked Lavanta Augusta to force home another run, but struck out Quantae Gaudia before Keith Miller lined into a double play. 

In the fifth, Ascension Catholic (16-11, 9-1) committed three errors to begin the inning, loading the bases again. But Augusta and Taylor flied out and Montero earned another out on a pickoff move at second base, leaving the Rams with just two runs for their two bases loaded situations. 

“That really hurt us. You leave the bases loaded like that, it’s hard to recover,” said Joseph. “We made a few errors in the field and a few baserunning errors. It’s just a tough day.”

Montero allowed just one hit in his four innings of work, while walking three and hitting a batter.

“Coach is always trying to get me to throw the fastball,” said Montero with a laugh. “But I always tell him that the knuckleball is the only one I feel comfortable getting over for a strike.”

Said Landry, “You just have to wait out the knuckleball. Sometimes it works, sometimes you’ve got to wait out a walk or two and let the pitch work. He came through in a couple of key spots.”

The Bulldogs charged out with five first inning runs, highlighted by Falcon Mire’s three-run double. An RBI single by Ross Barbier and a two-run single by Jacob Caballero tacked on two more runs to make it 8-1. 

“When I found out that (Howard) wasn’t starting, I told our guys that it was extremely important to get some runs early. I knew we’d see him eventually,” said Landry. 

“We’re in the cage 24-7, working on our hitting,” said Montero. 

Anfernee Lumar took the loss for WSJ.

Though Howard held ACHS to one run over the final five innings, the Rams couldn’t make a push after the fourth.

“He’s an outstanding pitcher. I wish him the best at Southern, but I know I won’t miss him,” said Landry. “They can give somebody a fit next week in the playoffs with him on the mound. Hopefully, it’s not us.”

Joseph said that it wasn’t the ideal way to end the regular season, but that he and his players still had a postseason push on their minds. West St. John was ranked No. 19 in Class 1A entering the clash with the Bulldogs. 

“Nobody’s giving up, I’ll promise you,” said Joseph. “We’ve got a lot of young guys out here learning as we go. If we make the routine plays, we’ve got a chance to win.”