Wow. Wow. Wow.
John Curtis is the Division I baseball champion, having blanked Catholic-BR, 5-0, behind the NO-HIT PITCHING OF IAN LANDRENAU on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at McMurry Field in Sulphur.
Cade Beloso provided the big blow in the third inning, ripping a three-run home run far over the right centerfield wall. Beloso came through with two outs in the inning and the score knotted at 0-0.
The Patriots tacked on insurance runs in the 4th and 6th innings, but they weren’t needed with Landreneau cruising. He retired the first 14 befuddled Bear batters before an error provided their first base runner in the 5th inning.
Curtis entered the playoffs seeded #1 and Coach Jeff Curtis’s team showed they were worthy of that respect. The Patriots won their four playoff games by an aggregate score of 31-4, finishing it off with back-to-back shutouts by Dax Ford and Landreneau.
It was the culmination of an amazing season, adding the frosting on the cake of after successfully defending their Catholic League Championship. It was the 50th win in the impressive career of Curtis as head baseball coach (he’s now 49-14 in just two seasons).
Try these on for size:
- The Patriots won 19 of their last 21 games, dating back to March 16. That’s two losses in eight weeks.
- Dating back to the first game of Catholic League play (March 21) Curtis is 15-2, winning 10 of those games by 5 runs or more.
- It was the 8th State Championship for Curtis and the first in the LHSAA’s highest classification. Previous State Champions were in 1982 (2A), 1990 (3A), 1991 (4A), 1997 (4A), 2000 (4A), 2002 (4A), and 2015 (3A).
A no-hitter to win the State Championship. It was one for the ages.
Speaking of ages, check the ages of these Curtis players. Austin Haensel goes out as a champion—he’s the only senior on the team. The title was accomplished with a junior-sophomore laden team.
Landreneau was the man of the hour. But in true Curtis fashion, it was a team victory, with his mates performing near-flawlessly behind him and giving him all the run support he needed.
The game ended on a note of suspense. The drama was building for the nice contingent of Curtis fans who made the trek to Sulphur. The zeroes kept going up inning-by-inning in the Catholic column. But it was the big zero under the “H” that stuck. The excitement was building with each batter retired.
Why not finish it off with a flair? With the Curtis fans holding their breath, the Bears loaded the bases in the seventh. With two out and a runner on first and Landreneau one out from history, a hit-by-pitch and a 3-2 walk filled the bases.
The no-hitter was still intact, but it and shutout were in jeopardy. The celebration started briefly when the Catholic batter swung and missed a third strike. But the umpire said it was a foul tip, so the drama was prolonged.
The affable Landreneau induced a soft blooper to shortstop Brandon Davis, the Patriot shortstop squeezed it, and the celebration started for real. The Patriot players hugged each other and danced in front of the dugout. It was the joyous last dance for this team that showed a special blend of togetherness all season.
In the first inning, Beloso peeled a line drive headed towards the right field corner, but a spectacular diving catch by the Catholic outfielder robbed him of an extra-base hit. But it was a precursor of things to come.
Curtis nearly broke the 0-0 schneid in the second inning. Ford walked. Haensel belted a double off the left field wall, but Ford was nipped at the plate by a perfect relay throw.
Then came the third. Hunter Bufkin got it going with a leadoff walk. With two out, Haensel was hit by a pitch. Announcer Lyn Rollins told the TV audience that was a mistake, because they would now have to pitch to Beloso with runners on base.
Rollins was right. Beloso looked at three pitches before his soaring fly ball to right center field. All the Catholic right fielder could do was to run back a few steps and get a view of the ball flying over the wall. The Curtis fans went crazy.
The Patriots extended the lead in the next inning without a hit. Logan Stevens was hit by a pitch with two out. Bufkin’s ground ball resulted in a three-base error on an overthrow, and Stevens crossed the plate without drawing a throw.
Curtis added run in the bottom of the 6th with some help from the Bears’ defense. Jay Curtis led off with a line shot to center field for a single. Cade Comeaux replaced him as a courtesy runner. He moved to second on Haensel’s hard ground ball that resulted in an error by the third baseman, then to third on a passed ball. With Stevens at the plate, the Catholic catcher tried to catch Comeaux off base, but the throw was mishandled by the third baseman, and Comeaux scampered home with the fifth Curtis run.
Curtis kept the pressure on Catholic after Beloso’s blast. Before and after the 3-0 lead, Landreneau appeared to be the calmest customer in the park. He consistently worked from ahead in the count, confusing the Catholic hitters with an overwhelming overhand curve highlighting a variety of pitches. He had just two strikeouts, letting his defense do the work on 13 balls hit in the air (most of the of the popup variety), and six ground balls. This was against a team that sported a lineup with eight batters hitting .300 or better coming into the game.
Write it down, Patriot fans. May 13, 2017. A distinctive date in the history of a distinctive athletic program.