Rebels, Comets & Rams baseball teams see postseason
Published 12:03 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017
West St. John High School baseball coach Greg Joseph calls himself a realist.
So, for a few minutes after getting a call Sunday afternoon informing him that his Rams had earned the No. 28 spot in the Class 2A playoff bracket and, with it, a roughly three-hour trip west to Kinder for Monday’s game, Joseph thought about things.
He thought about his team, which finished the regular season 2-18 and the district schedule 0-8.
He thought about the baseball program, which has only made the playoffs a handful of times, the last time in 2014, and has only won one postseason contest anyone can remember.
He thought about his players, who have struggled through a long list of adversities this season but have never even sniffed the playoffs. And he thought about the option the Louisiana High School Athletic Association gave him to just skip it.
“I thought about it for a minute but I didn’t think long,” said Joseph, who took over the team in 2015 after his son, Juan Joseph, was shot to death in Baton Rouge.
“It’s tough to get in like that,” he added. “You’ll drive three and a half or four hours, probably play 40 minutes, then get back on the bus and come home. That’s being real.”
In reality, though, anything can happen on a baseball field.
Wanting his kids to get “playoff experience,” Joseph got a surprise when his team battled No. 4 Kinder in a 2-0 loss Monday.
“I’m so proud of my kids,” Joseph said. “We played really well. I think those Kinder folks were surprised.”
They probably aren’t the only ones, but welcome to the LHSAA’s “new and improved” split playoff system, which divides public and private schools into separate playoffs and gives more schools a chance to play in them.
Riverside Academy, St. Charles Catholic and West St. John, all Class 2A schools by enrollment, earned spots, but in separate brackets.
East St. John, which finished the season 9-19, did not qualify for the Class 5A playoffs.
While West St. John faced only one first round game, the private schools do things a little differently.
The Division III bracket has only 16 teams and they must play two best 2-of-3 series, one this weekend and one next weekend, to get to Sulphur for the semifinals and finals, which are single games.
Local fans were thrilled last year when the Rebels and Comets played each other, but not so thrilled to have to drive to Sulphur to see it.
This year the only way they’ll meet is in the championship game May 13.
First, No. 4 seed Riverside (26-10) will host No. 13 Archbishop Hannan (15-12) at 4:30 p.m. Friday and at noon Saturday.
The third game, if necessary, will be played 30 minutes after completion of Game 2.
St. Charles Catholic (21-10), the No. 6 seed, will host No. 16 Sacred Heart of Ville Platte (15-13) at 4:30 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday. The third game would be played at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Comets coach Wayne Stein said he is excited about the way his team finished the season, especially after its rough start.
“This is where we expect to be,” he said.
But Stein concedes there aren’t many easy paths to Sulphur.
“No matter what, you’re playing somebody that can beat you,” he said.
Last year was no cakewalk either. The teams had to play one bi-district game to get to a three-game series for the regionals.
“I’m excited that it’s 2-out-3,” Stein said. “I like it. I look back at last year — we lost Game 1, then luckily, we played that morning. The rain comes and the rules state that if you don’t get it in, whoever won Game 1 advances.”
That’s what happened to Riverside last year in its second round series against Newman. The Rebels won the first game, 9-3, before the rain wiped out the rest of the series.
Of course, coaches love to say anything can happen when you play the games.
Joseph said Monday’s game provided his team invaluable experience, as well as some future life lessons.
“I told my kids before the game, ‘We’re going to represent our school,’” Joseph said. “‘We’re going to get on the bus like professionals. When we get there, we’re going to run on the field and off the field and play baseball. That’s what we do.”
That’s what they did.
Lori Lyons is sports editor at L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at 985-652-9545 or email@example.com.