Dax Ford strikes out 13 as Curtis topples Rummel 7-0 to advance to Division I title game
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SULPHUR — This time, it wasn’t close.
Dax Ford made sure of it.
John Curtis and Rummel split a pair of one-run games during the regular season, but Ford made sure the Patriots kept the Raiders in check in Round 3.
The left-hander tossed a three-hitter and had 13 strikeouts in the Patriots’ 7-0 victory in the Division I semifinals of the LHSAA state baseball tournament Thursday at McMurry Park.
Top-seed Curtis (29-6) will go for its eighth state title and second in three years when it plays Holy Cross or Catholic High at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Ford (3-1) struck out the first three batters he faced and ended the game with one final strikeout, pushing his season total to 52 in just 28 innings.
Not bad for a sophomore throwing at McMurry Park for the very first time.
He admits it was the biggest game of his life.
“By far,” he said. “I was very hyped up, but I was also nervous. All my pitches were working.”
The only adversity Ford faced was in the sixth when Rummel got a pair of singles off him. But he worked his way out of that jam with an inning-ending strikeout.
He also had seven walks, but none came back to haunt him.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better out of him today,” Patriots coach Jeff Curtis said. “He was phenomenal. He filled the strike zone up. He answered the bell for us today.”
The Patriots gave Ford all the runs he needed in the first inning. Curtis jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first after Brandon Davis and Jordin Labruzza started the game with a single and a double, respectively.
Cade Beloso’s sacrifice fly to right drove in Davis and a Jay Curtis groundout scored Labruzza. The Patriots added three more runs in the second on Ian Landreneau’s RBI followed by a Davis double. Landreneau drove in another run in the third, and Alex Michel’s bunt scored the final run of the game for the Patriots.
John Curtis 7, Rummel 0: Dax Ford pitches three-hitter, strikes out 13 in D-I semis
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John Curtis’ Cade Belloso gives teammate Jordin Labruzza a hug after Labruzza scored the Patriots’ second run against Rummel in the first inning of a Division I semifinals game at McMurry Park in Sulphur on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Jim Derry, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
Jim Derry, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
By Jim Derry, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on May 11, 2017 6:21 PM, updated May 11, 2017 8:22 PM
SULPHUR – The much-anticipated rubber match between Rummel and John Curtis in the Division I semifinals didn’t leave much to the imagination.
Dax Ford struck out the side in the first two innings, and the Patriots had a five-run lead by the time the Raiders put the ball in play and went on to cruise to a 7-0 victory at McMurry Park.
The win puts top-seeded Curtis (27-6) in the Division I state championship game against the winner of the Holy Cross-Catholic game, which begins Thursday at 7 p.m. It is the third time in four seasons the Patriots will play in a title game, having won Class 3A in 2015 a year after falling to Evangel in the finals.
For all intents and purposes, the Raiders never had a chance. Of their first seven hitters, only Lyall Ball didn’t strike out, and he was left stranded at first after being walked to lead off the second inning. By the time the fifth inning was completed, Ford had struck out 10 batters and allowed just one hit.
In all, Ford pitched a complete-game, three-hit shutout, in which he allowed seven walks and struck out 13.
“First inning, I actually felt like I was struggling a bit, but I knew I had to focus and get through for my team,” said Ford, who made 120 pitches. “After we took the lead, it got me fired up. I wasn’t here for the 2015 (championship), and 2016 was a rough one for us. But we’re coming through with this one.”
The only thing keeping the door from fully slamming shut on Rummel was Ford’s wildness from the third inning on. He walked five from the third through sixth, and loaded the bases in the sixth before striking out Kade Rivera to end the threat.
The Patriots scored two in the first after Brandon Davis singled to lead off the bottom of the first and moved to third on Jordin Labruzza’s double. Davis then scored on a sac fly from Cade Belloso, and Labruzza scored on a RBI groundout by Jay Curtis.
The following inning, John Curtis made it 5-0 on a two-run, two-out double by Davis and a RBI single by Labruzza.
“Top of the lineup with Brandon Davis and Jordin Labruzza were phenomenal, setting the table for us,” Curtis coach Jeff Curtis said. “… We just had tough, competitive at-bats throughout the game, and any time you can do that and run one of their top guys out early, you give yourself a chance.”
And run Zach Cook out early, the Patriots most certainly did. With one out in the third after he had dug himself a 5-0 hole by giving up five hits and two walks, Coach Nick Monica had seen enough. He went to Saturday’s hero against Jesuit in Game 2, and Lyall Ball did a decent job.
But the damage had been done. By the end of the third inning, it was 7-0, and neither team could put anything on the board after that.
Despite the loss, it was a successful playoff trip for the Raiders (27-11) who hadn’t made it this far since 2012, when they lost in the Class 5A title game to Barbe. The past four seasons, they hadn’t made it out of the second round.
“The five seniors (Cook, Ball, Charlie Beck, Luke LaCoste and Michael Ganter) we have are the reason why we’re here, just what they have given us with their leadership,” Monica said. “They have seen both sides, because we weren’t a very good baseball team over the summer. Once we started in January, I think they knew that and knew what needed to be done and were able to change that.”
Rummel – 000 000 0 – 0 3 2
John Curtis – 232 000 X – 7 7 0
Rummel: Lyall Ball, Charlie Beck and Jackson Dennies each singled.
John Curtis: Brandon Davis, 2-3, 2B, 2R, 2RBIs; Brandin Labruzza, 2-3, 2B, R, RBI; Austin Haensel. 1-2, 2R.
WP: Dax Ford, 7 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 7 BB, 12 K
LP: Zach Cook, 2.1 IP, 7 R, 6 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 K
Ford, Curtis dominate Rummel to reach title game
SULPHUR, La. – After two classic, one-run games which the two rivals split in the regular season, John Curtis Christian and Archbishop Rummel played the rubber game in the Division I state semifinals Thursday afternoon at McMurry Park.
This one was anything but a classic as the top-seeded Patriots dominated from start to finish in a convincing 7-0 victory over the Raiders.
While the always potent Curtis offense was on full display, it was the pitching of sophomore Dax Ford that stole the show.
Ford pitched a complete game three-hitter, striking out 13 in a superb performance, using 118 pitches in his first complete game of the season.
“The thing that had me rolling through the innings was after a strikeout or made play, the whole infield was just making me smile, making me remember why I love the game,”Ford said. “Striking out the side in the first inning and then us scoring two runs allowed me to settle in nicely. Basically, they did everything for me.
Ford got the offensive support as Ian Landreneau drove in two runs while Jordan Labruzza and Brandon Davis each had two hits and an RBI for the Patriots in a complete performance by the Patriots, leaving head coach Jeff Curtis beaming.
“We executed the game plan almost to perfection,” Curtis said. “We pitched well, caught it well and got timely hits. Tip the hat to everybody today, especially Dax. We thought he was a great matchup for Rummel. He pitched really well against them in relief the first time this year. We thought he gave us the best chance to win and he went out and did it.”
See the rest of Ken Trahan’s story at:
John Curtis Cruises to Division I Title Game
Posted: 6:57 p.m., May 11, 2017 ABC-26.
Curtis State Semifinal Post-game
Sulphur, La. — Curtis lefty Dax Ford promised his head coach a complete game, and he delivered. Ford struck out 13 as John Curtis defeated district rival Rummel 7-0 in a Division I state semi-final game in Sulphur.
“We went with Dax because he pitched good against them in relief in the regular season,” said Curtis Head Coach Jeff Curtis. “He told me he would pitch a complete game, and he did.”
With 2 out in the top of the 7th, Curtis visited the mound and told Ford his last batter to face would be Evan Francioni. He got Francioni for his 13th strikeout to end the game.
The Patriots plated two runs in the first inning– Jordin Labruzza’s double to left sent lead-off Brandin Davis to third. Both would later score on a sacrifice fly and a ground out. Curtis added 3 more runs in the second, and 2 more in the third to seal the shut-out victory. Curtis will play the winner of Thursday night’s Holy Cross vs. Catholic- Baton Rouge game.