Nine Bulldogs make all-district baseball team
The Ascension Catholic Bulldogs fell short in their quest to repeat as district champions in 2017, but that didn’t put a damper on the superb season they experienced.
It was a year that saw them reach the state tournament for the first time since 2005. On the heels of this memorable run, nine Ascension Catholic payers filled the All-District 6-1A team.
The Bulldogs headed into the season with high expectations after reaching the state quarterfinals for three straight years and returning most of their starters—including All-State players in LSU signees Landon Clifton and Nick Bellina.
Clifton was last year’s District 6-1A MVP.
Ascension Catholic played a tremendously challenging schedule throughout the year that featured an array of upper-classification teams. Seven of their nine non-district losses were to these larger schools.
Once they did begin district play, the Bulldogs had their eyes on taking the crown for the second straight year, and they got off to a great start.
In the district opener, they crushed Ascension Christian, 12-0. However, two days later, they were shut out by the Lions, 2-0.
The loss was followed up by six straight district victories, setting up back-to-back matchups with St. John.
If they won both games, they would capture the district title outright. If they won one of the two, they would win a share of the championship, along with St. John and Ascension Christian.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they lost both games. The two defeats awarded the Eagles the district crown and forced Ascension Catholic to settle for third place.
Despite the disappointment, the Bulldogs were able to bounce back and win their final three regular season games. This earned them the No. 4 seed in the Division IV playoffs.
In the first round, they cruised past St. Mary’s, 7-2, punching their ticket to the quarterfinals for the fourth straight season.
There, they finally got the monkey off of their backs and crushed Catholic of Pointe Coupee, 10-1, to reach the state semifinals for the first time in over a decade.
Once in Sulphur, they pushed top-seeded and defending 1A state champions Central Catholic to the limit. They had a 4-0 lead early.
Though, the Eagles showed why they’re champions. They rallied to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
The contest took 11 innings in all, but Central Catholic finally pulled it out, 5-4. If the Bulldogs reached the title game, it would have been the school’s first trip since 1994.
In Ascension Catholic’s exciting run to Sulphur, Clifton was once again a first-team all-district pitcher.
His fellow LSU-Eunice signee, Bellina was a first-team selection from the infield.
Bellina had a knack for coming up huge at the plate all season. In their quarterfinal win, he hit a grand slam. In the semifinal game, he had two RBIs.
After his grand slam against CHSPC, head coach Todd Landry said of Bellina, “He’s been carrying us all year. The guys is just a great baseball player.”
Also making the all-district first team was senior third-baseman Ross Ponville and sophomore outfielder Mason Zeringue.
William Dunn was their final first-team selection as a utility player.
Senior D.J. Girior teamed up with Clifton to form one of the top one-two combos on the mound in District 6-1A for the past two years. As a result, he was a second-team selection.
Charlie Gianelloni made the second team from the infield, and Rodney Blanchard made it from the outfield. Both players will be returning in 2018.
Finally, senior Dylan Vice made the second team as a utility player.