Left fielder Austin Haensel and third baseman Alex Michel each hit two-run homers in support of Ian Landreneau’s complete-game effort as the Patriots took a 12-2 five-inning victory against Evangel on Thursday night in the opening game of a Division I quarterfinals series at Mike Miley Stadium.

In winning its first outing of the postseason, top-seeded Curtis (26-6) won its third straight game and eighth in nine games to move within one victory of advancing to the Division I semifinals at the LHSAA state baseball tournament in Sulphur.

The two-time District 9-5A Catholic League champions play host to No. 9 Evangel (16-20) at 4 p.m. Friday at Miley with a third game if necessary to follow 30 minutes after.

Curtis is seeking its first state title at the state’s highest classification and first since winning a Class 3A championship in 2015.

“Absolutely, we had concerns,” Curtis coach Jeff Curtis said in referencing his team’s nearly two-week layoff. “Any time you take that much time off, you do what you’ve got to do in practice to try and stay sharp, but you never know how it’s going to come out. So it was kind of like starting a new season, which the playoffs are.”

Curtis scored all the runs it needed in the first two innings, bolting to an 11-0 advantage. The Patriots scored seven in the bottom of the first and another four in the second before ending the game with an unearned run in the fifth.

Haensel and Michel each hit two-run homers to highlight the seven-run first, in which the Patriots combined three hits with three walks and two throwing errors to account for their scoring. First baseman Cade Beloso also contributed a RBI single in the first.

In the second, the Patriots collected four more hits to go with a walk and hit batter in scoring four times.

Catcher Jay Curtis had an RBI double with none out following a walk and hit batter, driving in the first run. A groundout by center fielder Dax Ford scored the second run. After a throwing error allowed the next run to score, designated hitter Hunter Bufkin singled to increase the lead to 11-0.

Ford ended the contest with a long flyout to foul territory outside of left field to score shortstop Brandon Davis from third. Davis reached on a dropped infield popup to start the inning and moved to third by two intentional walks.

Consecutive solo home runs by starting pitcher Taylor Knowles and left fielder Jason Bellew to lead off the third trimmed Evangel’s deficit to 11-2. The Eagles four of their six hits in the inning.

Haensel, Michel and Ford each had two RBIs while Beloso, Jay Curtis and Bufkin each had one for Curtis, which had stroked two doubles to go with the two homers by Haensel and Michel.

“That’s Patriots baseball right there,’’ Haensel said. “Every game we’re ready to hit. We didn’t like having a 13-day layoff. We’re used to playing back to back games. But we did what we had to do in practice. We gave coach Jeff everything we had.’’

The visiting Eagles entered having won eight of their last 10 games, including a 2-1 series triumph against No. 8 Byrd last weekend. Evangel is seeking its fifth state title in baseball and first since 2011.

“If we could have started the game in the third inning, it could have been a lot closer,’’ Evangel coach Tim Hulett said. “Taylor’s been a great pitcher for us all season. He’s had a couple of bad outings, but he’s usually been able to fight out of it. Today was one of those days that he couldn’t fight out of it.’’

Ken Trahan on SportsNOLA.com

John Curtis blasts Evangel in game one of playoff baseball series

METAIRIE – Having not played a game since Apr. 21, the concern for top-seed John Curtis Christian entering game one of a best-of-three Division I quarterfinal series with ninth-seed Evangel Christian Thursday evening was that the team would be rusty.

Think again.sportsnola.com/author/ktrahan

Curtis exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the first inning en route to a 12-2 victory over Evangel in a game shortened to five innings by the mercy rule at Mike Miley Stadium.

“We had concerns coming in about not having played in two weeks,” Patriots head coach Jeff Curtis said. “Anytime you take that much time off, you do what you’ve got to do in practice. You’re not really sure what you’re going to get. It’s a new season in the playoffs and it felt like a new season. We stuck to our game plan offensively. We didn’t want to chase anything on the edges of the plate early in counts.”

On an evening where the win was blowing out, gusting to 30 miles per hour, hitters eyes lit up and they lit up opposing pitchers to the tune of four home runs in the game.

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