PLAQUEMINE — It took St. John of Plaquemine just three batters to score its first run in Tuesday night’s District 9-1A baseball game against Ascension Catholic.
The Eagles didn’t know it at the time, but that was all the offense they would need as starting pitcher Hunter Schnebelen tossed a complete game three-hitter to blank the Bulldogs 6-0 and capture the district crown outright.
“This was a big ballgame,” said St. John coach Heath Whittington. “Our kids wanted it. It’s always good when you have a playoff atmosphere like this. It’s going to prepare both of us for the playoffs. I tip my hat to (Ascension Catholic). They are a good ballclub.”
It took Ascension Catholic (14-13) three innings to notch its first hit, and the Bulldogs collected two more scattered singles off Schnebelen, who also registered four strikeouts in the game to secure a 9-1 district record for St. John (24-5).
“I felt great,” Schnebelen said. “I just came out there and tried to throw strikes. (Ascension Catholic) is one hell of a team.They played their butts off. I appreciate coach giving me a chance to throw this game.”
Only three Bulldogs advanced into scoring position and only one of them made it to third base.
Schnebelen registered four walks, which gave Ascension Catholic some signs of life, but the Bulldogs failed to push a run across.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Ascension Catholic coach Todd Landry said. “Their pitcher came out and threw a great game. The Schnebelen kid, my hat is off to him. I’m not making any excuses; he threw a tremendous game.”
The Eagles gave Schnebelen some backing early. Morgan Bookish led off with a single to open the bottom of the first off starter Hunter Medine. Bookish stole second and scored two batters later on an RBI single from Trevor Curry.
Curry also scored as part of a three-run first inning. St. John didn’t get complacent, adding another run in the third inning before Ascension Catholic’s problems escalated.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, a hard hit ball from Bookish hit Medine in the left foreman — his throwing arm — forcing him out of the ballgame. Landry said Medine went to the hospital to get his arm checked out, but the Bulldogs do expect their southpaw starter back in the near future.
“He was hit in the forearm pretty hard,” Landry said. “Obviously we’re hoping that he is going to be OK. I think he will, but we will find out later on (Tuesday) night. He took a pretty good lick.”
The game continued, and St. John tacked on two more in the fifth, thanks to a leadoff triple from Chris Patin.
Jacob Maranto knocked in Patin with a single to left field, and Seth Gulotta scored on a misplayed ball from Ascension Catholic shortstop D.J. Latino.
St. John has a quick turnaround, traveling to 5A Comeaux Wednesday afternoon for its second-to-last game of the regular season. But the Eagles are hoping the district title is just the beginning of their success in 2013.
“We start from right here with a 9-1A district title,” Schnebelen said. “But we’re setting our goals higher — a state championship.”