Trailing early to district rival Shaw, the John Curtis baseball team showed the resolve it has called upon all season, and now the Patriots are Catholic League champions.
Curtis scored five runs in the final two innings to rally for a 6-3 District 9-5A victory at Mike Miley Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“We came out a little sluggish,” Curtis coach Jeff Curtis said. “They got some balls in play, and they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. We didn’t panic, and we fought back. Our motto all year has been continue to play better the next game. Obviously, we’re really happy with being able to win the league at this point, but we’re still focused on Sulphur (site of the Class 5A state tournament May 14-16) and being in the best position possible to win there.”
Down 3-1 in the fifth, Curtis’ Trent Cormier blooped a double to shallow center and Mason Matherne walked with two outs to put runners at the corners. Jordin Labruzza then lined a two-run single to left field to tie the game.
“With two strikes, I was just trying to be athletic and drive in runs,” said Labruzza, who went 1-for-3 with RBIs. “I got a pitch I could handle, and I just barreled it up to left field. That hit really fired us up. To lock up district, it’s a big accomplish for the season.”
The Patriots (20-6, 9-1) secured the district crown in the sixth. Kody Schexnayder opened the inning with a walk, and Sean Bretz followed with a single fisted over the shortstop to put two on with no outs. Cormier got down a sacrifice bunt that the first baseman threw into right field allowing two runs to score, and Curtis added another run on Matherne’s bunt to set the final score.
“It was an outside pitch, so I just put it down the first base line,” Cormier said. “I did the best thing I could do for the team. It felt good to help put up the runs that we needed. It feels good to win district, but our main goal is to win state. This is just a stepping stone to that.”
Curtis reliever Austin Haensel got the win, striking out three in two perfect innings of relief of LSU commitment Daniel Cabrera, who allowed three runs on three hits and one walk. He struck out eight in five innings.
“I thought Daniel was going to go the whole game,” Haensel said. “I told him when I was going in that I was going to close it out like I did against Rummel. He knows that I’m going to shut it down for him. It’s good to lock up district, but we have two games left that are really important for power rankings.”
The Eagles (8-18, 3-7) jumped to an early 3-0 lead by taking advantage of a double, two errors, a walk and hit by pitch in the first inning. Cody Sposito got the scoring started with a bases-loaded walk followed by Keith Meier’s hit by pitch to make it 2-0. A fielder’s choice by Zach Autin drove in the inning’s final run.
Meier took the loss, allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks. He struck out four.
Shaw coach Kirk Bullinger said his left-hander kept the Eagles in the game.
“I think Keith pitched a great ball game today,” Bullinger said. “As far as I’m concerned, he should have had a no-hitter going into the sixth. He threw the ball excellent, and then our defense let him down a little bit. He just started getting tired because he was getting taxed in the sixth inning, but that’s kind of been the story of our season. We can’t hold on to leads because we don’t catch the ball.”
The Patriots, unofficially No. 15 in the LHSAA power rankings, will close the regular season next week at Jesuit on Tuesday and against Brother Martin at Miley on Thursday. Both opponents are in the top 10 in the power rankings.