When Rummel was hovering a few games above .500 overall late in Catholic League play, thoughts of the Raiders reaching the baseball state tournament didn’t seem too feasible.
The Raiders then went on a run to position themselves as the No. 4 seed in the Division I playoffs with Rummel facing top-seeded Catholic of Baton Rouge at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Lake Charles.
In the other Division I semifinal Thursday, Brother Martin of the Catholic League takes on St. Paul’s of Covington at 7:30 p.m.
Both games will be available via a pay-per-view live stream on VSN Louisiana. Jason Duhe will be handling the play-by-play with color analysis by Lonn Ellzey.
Rummel (21-12) advanced by sweeping Byrd 5-2 and 11-8 in the quarterfinals to stretch its winning streak to six games heading into the semifinals.
“I think going into the year we didn’t know what we were going to have,” Rummel coach Nick Monica said. “We were starting five sophomores. Our top two arms were coming back from injuries so we didn’t know what we would get there. There was a lot of uncertainty going into the season.
“We played a pretty tough schedule and I think it got us ready for district to where we are now. It also paid dividends because we were able to earn the No. 4 seed with the strength of the schedule that we played. We feel like we played good competition and it got us ready for the back end of our schedule.”
The competition doesn’t get much tougher than the Bears, who are 23-10 on the season. Catholic advanced in the tournament by taking two of three games in its quarterfinals series against Holy Cross.
“They are an aggressive-hitting team. They are aggressive once they get on the bases. They try to do different things to put pressure on your pitching and defense. You just have to be able to handle the moment enough to make plays and handle their pressure,” Monica said of the Bears.
Three of the top four hitters in the Bears’ lineup are left-handed batters.
Leading off for the Bears is Addison Ainsworth, one of the left-handers. He is coming off a game in which he hit a home run.
Zach Ordeneaux and Mason Zambo are other left-handed hitters at the top of the lineup.
Another top hitter is center fielder Jackson Thomas.“He’s a good athlete for them. He can swing it a little bit, too,” said Monica.
The top guy on the mound for Catholic-Baton Rouge is 6-foot-6 hard-throwing righthander Nicholas Judice.
“For us to win, we have to pitch really well and play good defense behind our pitcher. That will be where it all starts. Then, we have to have competitive at-bats. We just have to do what we do best, which is grind out our at-bats and make the pitchers and defense work,” Monica said.
Brother Martin versus St. Paul’s of Covington: The Crusaders, the No. 2 seed, advanced with a quarterfinals sweep of their three-game series with fellow Catholic League foe John Curtis, the two-time defending Division I state champion.
Brennan Stuprich, a junior, is one of the Crusaders’ top all-around athletes as a pitcher and hitter.
Joe Delaney is the leadoff hitter for Brother Martin while Brady Faust, a University of South Mississippi commitment, is in the second spot. Stuprich hits third in the lineup.
Tre Morgan is the cleanup hitter for Brother Martin.
“I think the thing that Brother Martin is really good at is their lineup is deep. They have a bunch of guys that can run. They don’t strike out. When you put those things together with guys that have speed and can put the ball in play a lot, I think in high school baseball, that makes things tough on you,” said Monica, whose team lost twice to the Crusaders in the regular season.
St. Paul’s, the No. 3 seed, reached the semifinals with a quarterfinal sweep of Evangel, the No. 6 seed.
A young Wolves team reached the finals a year ago, falling to Curtis 2-1 in the championship game.
Most of St. Paul’s players from last season returned, led by senior right-hander Jacob Scherer, a LSU verbal commitment.
The team also returned its top hitter from 2018 in William Duncan.
In St. Paul’s 11-0 Game 2 win over Evangel to close out the series, the Wolves amassed 11 runs on 15 hits while Jacob Boudreaux and Connor Simon combined for a two-hitter.VSN Louisiana is Louisiana’s first statewide high school sports digital network and offers anytime/anywhere access to content available to be consumed on the device of your choice.
VSN Louisiana offers live streaming games, high-end video docuseries, and written journalism. All live-streaming games will also be available on-demand at VSNOnDemand.com which also offers over 1,000 videos featuring Louisiana high school athletics.