Published by The Daily Advertiser
May 5, 2019
No one said it would be easy.
And sometimes, a team can make matters even tougher by making mistakes in the field and not throwing strikes.
Although Ascension Episcopal failed to do both at times in Game 2 against Holy Savior Menard, the Blue Gators made enough plays late to defeat the Eagles
9-7 in nine innings on Sunday to advance to the Division III semifinals.
"We always talk about the season is a roller-coaster," Blue Gators head coach Lonny Landry said. "If it wasn't a roller-coaster today for me and anyone
involved, I don't know what it is."
With the win, the Blue Gators will face St. Thomas Aquinas at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in the Division III semifinals at McMurry Park in Sulphur.
The Blue Gators scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning on a sacrifice fly to left field by Seth Kerstetter that gave Ascension an 8-7 lead before
extending it to 9-7 on an error by the Eagles' left fielder that allowed a runner to score from second.
Cole Simon, who hit a batter with two outs in the ninth, kept the Eagles at bay to earn the win. Simon walked in the game-tying run in the bottom of the
seventh inning, but entered the game with the bases loaded and behind in the count 1-0 after relieving Preston Ocmand.
"I told coach to put me in the game, because I knew I could do it," said Simon, who allowed a hit, two walks and a hit batter, while striking out in two
and two-thirds innings of work. "He told me he was putting me in the game because he knew I could do it. I'm close with all of the seniors, so I just
couldn't let them down." Landry, whose Blue Gators led 7-4 in the ninth before the Eagles scored three runs via two hit batters, a fielders choice
and three walks, was confident Simon would get it done.
"Preston closed out some big games for us during the year, but he just didn't have it today," Landry said. "Cole wasn't even an option to go in. But he's
been on this type of stage before as the quarterback in football, so I said lets put him in and see what he can do. But he wasn't in our plans. I told
Cole the reason why I'm putting you in is because I know you can handle it."
Offensively, the Blue Gators were led by Drake Lee, who proved to be a tough out the entire game. Lee went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.
"The last few week, Drake has been unconscious," Landry said. "He is confident and has been a hard out at the plate."
Lee was merely doing whatever the Blue Gators needed him to do.
"Since I've come in halfway through the season, I've been very confident at the plate," Lee said. "Once the playoffs started, I flipped a switch. I was
just trying to do a job. I want to do whatever the team needs. If they need me to bunt and move a runner, I'll bunt. If I need to hit a fly ball to
score a run from third, that's what I'll do. For me, getting a hit is a bonus."
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