SULPHUR, La. – After two classic, one-run games which the two rivals split in the regular season, John Curtis Christian and Archbishop Rummel played the rubber game in the Division I state semifinals Thursday afternoon at McMurry Park.
This one was anything but a classic as the top-seeded Patriots dominated from start to finish in a convincing 7-0 victory over the Raiders.
While the always potent Curtis offense was on full display, it was the pitching of sophomore Dax Ford that stole the show.
Ford pitched a complete game three-hitter, striking out 13 in a superb performance, using 118 pitches in his first complete game of the season.
“The thing that had me rolling through the innings was after a strikeout or made play, the whole infield was just making me smile, making me remember why I love the game,”Ford said. “Striking out the side in the first inning and then us scoring two runs allowed me to settle in nicely. Basically, they did everything for me.
Ford got the offensive support as Ian Landreneau drove in two runs while Jordan Labruzza and Brandon Davis each had two hits and an RBI for the Patriots in a complete performance by the Patriots, leaving head coach Jeff Curtis beaming.
“We executed the game plan almost to perfection,” Curtis said. “We pitched well, caught it well and got timely hits. Tip the hat to everybody today, especially Dax. We thought he was a great matchup for Rummel. He pitched really well against them in relief the first time this year. We thought he gave us the best chance to win and he went out and did it.”
The Patriots jumped on Rummel starter Zach Cook in the bottom of the first. Brandon Davis lined a single to left and advanced to third on a double off the wall in left field by Labruzza. Tulane commitment Cade Beloso plated Davis with a sacrifice fly to right to make 1-0. Jay Curtis produced another run on a groundout to short to score Labruzza and it was 2-0 after one inning.
The Patriots opened the game up in the bottom of the second with three runs. Austin Haensel walked and Logan Stevens reached on an error. Ian Landreneau drove in a run on a groundout to make it 3-0. Davis laced an RBI double to make it 4-0 and Labruzza singled home another run and it was 5-0 after two innings.
Curtis continued to add on in the bottom of the third, again capitalizing on an error. Ford walked with one out and Haensel singled. Stevens hit a roller about 12 feet and Jackson Dennies fielded but his throw hit Stevens and a run scored to make it 6-0. Landreneau followed with an RBI single to make it 7-0 after three innings.
Rummel (28-11) had runners on in every inning but the first but the Raiders could not solve Ford. The Raiders scratched just three singles off of Ford, by Lyall Ball, Jackson Dennies and Charlie Beck. Ball pitched four and two-thirds innings of shutout relief, allowing just two hits and striking out five after Cook allowed seven runs (two earned) on five hits in just two and a third innings.
Raiders head coach Nick Monica was dejected but proud of his team’s season.
“We didn’t have our best stuff on the mound, Ford was really good and we gave them a couple of extra opportunities early on and you can’t do that with their lineup,” Monica said. “They are very good. They do not need help. I feel bad for our seniors because they had a great season and do not deserve that. We are proud of our season as we grew as a team with just five seniors.”
John Curtis (28-6) advances to the Division I championship game Saturday at 3 p.m. against the winner of the game pitting second-seed Catholic of Baton Rouge against third-seed Holy Cross. The Patriots will be in search of their eighth state title, their first since winning state in Class 3A in 2013.
“What a phenomenal career and season for Zach Cook,” Curtis said. “Here’s a bit shout out to him. He is such a tough competitor. We strung together really good at-bats early in the game. We have to do that Saturday. It was our goal to get to the title game from the beginning after a really good summer and really good fall. We’ve got one big one left. We hope we can play as well once more.”
“We play as a family, we’re one team, we’re one family, we live and die by each other,” Ford said. “That’s what I love most about this team.”
AR 000 000 0 0 3 2, 9 LOB
JC 232 000 x 7 7 0, 5 LOB
WP–Dax Ford (4-1)
LP–Zach Cook (9-3)
Time of Game: 1:56
State Baseball Tournament Scores/Schedule
At McMurry Park, Sulphur
Division IV semifinal: (11) Ascension Episcopal 3, (10) Houma Christian 0
Division V semifinal: (2) Claiborne Christian 11, (3) Episcopal School of Acadiana 1
Class C semifinal: (2) Simpson 10, (6) Georgetown 0
Class B semifinal: (7) Choudrant 4, (3) Florien 3
Division V semifinal: (1) Grace Christian 11, (5) Family Community 0
Class C semifinal: (1) Elizabeth 5, (4) Summerfield 2
Division IV semifinal: (1) Central Catholic 5, (4) Ascension Catholic 4, 11 innings
Class B semifinal: (1) Glenmora, 5, (4) Oak Hill 3
Division III semifinal: (4) Riverside Academy 7, (1) Opelousas Catholic 2
Division II semifinal: (8) St. Louis Catholic 11, (4) University 6
Division III semifinal: (2) Ouachita Christian 7, (6) St. Charles Catholic 1
Division II semifinal: (2) Teurlings Catholic 7, (10) St. Thomas More 1
Class 1A semifinal: (4) LaSalle 5, (9) Oberlin 2
Class 3A semifinal: (7) South Beauregard 6, (3) Berwick 1
Class 1A semifinal: (7) Grand Lake 6, (3) Delhi Charter 1
Division I semifinal: (1) John Curtis 7, (4) Rummel 0
Class 3A semifinal: (5) Iowa 12, (1) Brusly 0, 5 innings
Division I semifinal: (2) Catholic 5, (3) Holy Cross 4, 10 innings
Class 2A semifinal: (4) Kinder vs. (1) Sterlington, 10 a.m. Friday, Field 41
Class 4A semifinal: (21) Salmen vs. (8) Neville, 10:30 a.m., Field 40
Class 2A semifinal: (7) Rosepine vs. (3) Lakeside, 1 p.m., Field 41
Class 4A semifinal: (3) Tioga vs. (2) Breaux Bridge, 1:30 p.m., Field 40
Class 5A semifinal: (5) Zachary vs. (1) West Monroe, 4 p.m., Field 41
Class 5A semifinal: (7) Central vs. (3) Sam Houston, 7 p.m., Field 41
Class C: (1) Elizabeth vs. (2) Simpson, 1 p.m., Field 37
Division V: (2) Claiborne Christian vs. (1) Grace Christian, Field 37
Class B: (1) Glenmora vs. (7) Choudrant, 4:30 p.m, Field 40
Division IV: (1) Central Catholic vs. (11) Ascension Episcopal, 7 p.m., Field 37
Class 4A: 11:30 a.m., Field 40
Division II: (2) Teurlings Catholic vs. (8) St. Louis Catholic, noon, Field 41
Class 1A: (4) LaSalle vs. Grand Lake, 2 p.m., Field 37
Class 2A: 2:30 p.m., Field 40
Division I: (1) John Curtis vs. (2) Catholic, 3 p.m., Field 41
Division III: (4) Riverside vs. (2) Ouachita Christian, 5 p.m., Field 37
Class 3A: (7) South Beauregard vs. (5) Iowa, 5:30 p.m., Field 40
Class 5A: 6 p.m., Field 41