Get ready, Patriot fans, the Baton Rouge Catholic team is one to be reckoned with. The Patriots’ opponent in the Division I State Championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday is a solid team on a roll.
They are coming into the contest with a 29-8 record that includes a late season 14-game winning streak and a 9-1 march to the District 5-5A crown.
Catholic is the #2 seed in the bracket. The Bears topped the power points in Division I until Curtis edged ahead of them in midseason. It went down to the wire, with Curtis finally earning the #1 seed with a power rating of 35.21. Catholic was next at 34.12 followed by #3 Holy Cross at 32.95 and #4 Rummel at 31.60.
Catholic took the quarterfinal series against St. Paul’s, winning 5-4 in 11 innings, then losing by a similar 5-4 score, then winning the finale 8-5 to get the bus ready to go to Sulphur.
Shortly after the Curtis win over Rummel, the Bears got a thrilling walk-off 5-4 victory in the bottom of the 10th inning after Holy Cross had taken a one run lead in the top of the inning and appeared to be ready to advance. Lambert’s RBI single provided the winning run.
Bears Coach Brad Bass has a lineup is loaded with power, with eight players batting over.300. Just look at the numbers (prior to their semifinal win over Holy Cross): Will Guthridge (.369, 16 RBIs), Bryan Bergeron (.359, 10 RBIs), Brennan Lambert (.357, two home runs, 30 RBIs), Cole Johnson (.352, 20 RBIs), Jordan Werner (.344, 19 RBIs), Peyton Alexander (.300, four HRs, 19 RBIs), Parker Evans (.300, 19 RBIs) and Patrick Crifasi (.300, two HRs, 17 RBIs).
Catholic has a great baseball history, having turned out the likes of Austin Nola and Kurt Ainsworth. Over the years, a half-dozen Bear alumni have reached the major leagues.
Catholic is pursuing its’ fifth baseball championship after taking the title in 1953, 1976, 2010 and 2013. They were runner-up in 2015. They have made 19 state tournament appearances, they’ve reached the playoffs 30 times, and they won 22 district championships (in a district that currently includes the likes of St. Amant and Dutchtown).
Catholic has a well-rounded athletic program, perhaps emerging as the powerhouse in the Baton Rouge area. The Bears recently won the Class 5A state track meet (Curtis was second), and they ended the Patriots’ streak of track championships in 2016. They won the 2015 state title in football and number among their big-name alumni Warrick Dunn and Travis Minor. Curtis and Catholic have never met on the football field.