ACHS baseball beats Merryville 7-6 to advance in playoffs
After swinging out to four hits and four runs in the bottom of the first inning, the no. 12 Ascension Catholic Bulldogs looked poised to blowout the no. 21 Merryville Panthers in the first round of the LHSAA 1A baseball playoffs. However, the Bulldogs skated away with a 7-6 win over a relentless Panther team.
ACHS’ head coach Todd Landry said his guys came out at the top of the lineup on fire, stringing key hits together that opened up the early lead.
“That ended up being very big in this game and we knew this team was a scrappy team and would give us a good challenge,” Landry said, touting the team’s first inning performance.
Through five innings the Bulldogs still held a firm grip hold on the lead, ahead of the Panthers 6-1. However, in the sixth inning Merryville was able to put together some runs of its own and cut the lead to three and with a solid defensive stance, was only behind 6-3 moving to the plates in the top of the seventh inning.
That’s when the wheels on the Bulldogs’ wagon would begin to fall off. ACHS’ pitcher Falcon Mire began struggling and eventually hit a Merryville batter with a wild pitch. Landry substituted Mire off the mound and put in senior pitcher D.J. Latino to close out the game. However, the Panthers’ batters were already in rhythm and picked up three runs in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game at 6-6.
“It was a little surprising there in the seventh when they tied it,” Landry said, “but I mean our kids showed very good character in the seventh and found a way to end.”
When Latino got off the mound, ACHS knew it had to deliver a promise for the home-crowd. It did. Junior Jacob Caballero led off with a double to deep left field. Collin Landry would later follow with a bunt that loaded the bases for the Bulldogs, and eventually a runner came home to give ACHS the first round victory at 7-6.
Landry said he talked to his team about the complacency toward the end of the game, which almost put the season in jeopardy.
“We came out with real hot pitching, defensively and hitting and you get a lead and you kind of get complacent and we made some silly errors and silly mistakes and then we started getting behind in some hitters and they got a couple of hits and all of a sudden our backs were against the wall,” Landry said. “We told the kids they have to be prepared to play seven innings. Fortunately we were able to pull it out tonight, but certainly we have to play better going forward.”
“At this time of the year it doesn’t matter how you do it, it doesn’t matter if it’s pretty, or ugly, you just have to get a ‘W’ and we were able to do that and advance to the next round and we’ll get ready for our next opponent and put our best effort on the field,” Landry said.
Merryville’s first year head coach, Ben Herrington, said his team fell behind early due to nerves.
“Then we settled down and I think they got a feel for the place and we got into our groove and made some plays defensively and were able to scratch back in the end to make it interesting,” Herrington said.
Herrington added, “I’m proud of our team and what were able to accomplish this year. We won a bunch of games coming from behind this year and it just shows the type of team we are and there’s always fight within them and they never give up.”