DONALDSONVILLE —The last time Ascension Catholic and Ascension Christian met on the baseball field, the Lions coasted to an easy mercy-rule win. Ascension Catholic made sure that would not be the case the second time around.
Behind the arm of senior pitcher Hunter Medine, the Bulldogs (14-12, 7-2) outlasted Ascension Christian (9-12, 6-3) 3-1 Thursday afternoon at Regira Field, setting up a de facto District 9-1A championship game next Tuesday with St. John.
“It’s been our goal since the beginning of the year to get a shot at a district championship, and now we are right there,” Ascension Catholic coach Todd Landry said. “Ascension Christian fought all the way to the end, and I’ve got to give credit to them for being such a tough opponent.”
In a complete game, Medine (7-2) allowed just one run on two hits and struck out 12, one shy of his career-high, to earn his team-high seventh win of the season.
“He’s our best guy,” Landry said of Medine. “We hadn’t thrown him in a while, so he was a little rusty to begin with, but he is just a warrior when he gets on the mound. We are going to go as far as he takes us.”
In addition to his work on the mound, Medine, a UNO signee, also had two of ACHS’ four hits and scored on plays by designated hitter Collin Landry in the second and sixth inning.
“I don’t know if I warmed up properly or not because going into the game I wasn’t too confident,” Medine joked. “But after that, I settled in and my defense made plays behind me. I gained a lot of confidence in both pitching and hitting.”
Medine’s counterpart on the mound, Brennan Perkins, scattered three hits and allowed just one earned run in four innings, but three errors by the Lions defense proved costly.
“We kicked a few balls around and gave them some runs,” Ascension Christian coach Paul Burgard said. “I feel bad about the loss but I’m still pleased with the way we played.”
Medine led off the bottom of the second inning by sending a 2-1 pitch back up the middle for a single. After promptly stealing second, he scored on a grounder by Landry that went through the legs of ACH second baseman Donnie Clifton and into left field.
Landry later scored on a double by Reed Schexnayder to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
A streak of seven straight retired by Medine ended in the fifth inning when Seth Gaudin singled. Bugard put in pinch runner Cameron Gurolla. He quickly moved into scoring position on a groundout, then moved to third and scored on two wild pitches from Medine to cut Ascension Catholic’s lead in half.
The Lions had a chance to tie or take the lead with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning, but Medine kept his composure and Gaudin flied out to end the threat.
“Coach Landry came to the mound and told me just focus and get this last out,” Medine said.
“I just let my pitches really work and I was fired up.”