PLAQUEMINE — Monday’s Class 1A baseball quarterfinal matchup doubled as a rubber match as fourth-seeded St. John of Plaquemine defeated district rival and No. 12 seed Ascension Catholic 6-1 on Monday.
The Eagles and Bulldogs finished tied atop District 8-1A, splitting their season series 1-1.
“When the bracket came out and I saw that it was a possible matchup, I kind of knew it was going to happen,” Ascension Catholic coach Todd Landry said. “You never like to play a team three times.”
“They have a good club, and I knew they were better than a No. 12 seed,” St. John coach Heath Whittington said.
St. John will play No. 9 seed Sacred Heart of Ville Platte, which defeated top-seeded Ouachita Christian 7-5 on Monday, in the state semifinals at 2 p.m. Friday. Central Catholic and Cedar Creek are the other state semifinalists.
The Eagles (25-5) jumped to 3-0 lead in the first inning. Center fielder Brandon Noel started the scoring with an RBI single to left field, scoring third baseman Hayden Hemenway.
After designated hitter Gavin Landry reached on an error, catcher Jacob Maranto ripped a single to left, scoring Landry. Two batters later, right fielder Bailey Whittington brought Maranto home with an RBI single up the middle.
After a double in the second, Hemenway scored on a Chris Patin groundout to put St. John up 4-0.
“When you get down 3-0 in the first and then give up another one in the second, it changes your philosophy because we like to play a short game,” Landry said. “We like to bunt and hit-and-run, and you really can’t do those things when you get down by that number of runs.”
Ascension Catholic (19-13) scored its lone run in the third when third baseman Ross Barbier hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Grant Montero and cut the lead to 4-1.
First baseman Garrett Hales finished 2-for-3 for the Bulldogs. They had six hits but were unable to consistently get runners on base, grounding out 14 times.
“They were aggressive at the plate, but we played good defense, so it helped Hunter out a lot,” Whittington said.
“It was really tough to see us go down today not swinging, but I credit that to a good pitcher today,” Landry said.
St. John padded its lead in the fifth with a solo home run by Noel. It was the team’s first home run all season.
“It came at a good time,” Whittington said. “Brandon Noel has been a good hitter for us all year.”
Noel finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs, and Hemenway finished 2-for-4 with two doubles.
The Eagles scored again in the sixth on an RBI single from Patin that scored Hemenway and stretched the lead to 6-1.
Hunter Schnebelen picked up the complete game win for St. John, allowing no earned runs on six hits with two strikeouts and one walk.
“Schnebelen did a phenomenal job on the mound,” Landry said. “He worked the ball in and out, he was able to change speeds, and he kept us off balance.”
“He threw a heck of a ballgame today,” Whittington said.
Falcon Mire took the loss, allowing four earned runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
“The maturity level of our guys makes a big difference,” Whittington said. “Our guys have been here before.”