Barbe should sit uncomfortably as the No. 1 seed
One thing is a certainty: Barbe has a better bowling team than Brother Martin. The Lake Charles school eliminated the Crusaders in the semifinal round of the LHSAA state bowling tournament on April 12.
And while the Buccaneers’ followers are expecting their No. 1-ranked baseball heroes to follow suit during the Class 5A tournament next month, I have a note of caution for Barbe’s boisterous head coach Glenn Cecchini.
To paraphrase Kansas City Monarchs’ famous pitcher, Satchel Paige, “Don’t look over your shoulder. Someone may be gaining on you.”
Yes, Barbe is the top dog at the moment entering the stretch run of the season with a 27-2 record. But I’m sure Cecchini has learned by now not to take the Catholic League powers of Brother Martin and Jesuit for granted. Their bites are lethal.
Ranked second and third, respectively, behind the Bucs, Brother Martin (22-3) and Jesuit (23-3) entered the week as the District 9-5A co-leaders. They will have met on April 16 to break that tie.
And there is no doubt that Martin’s Corey Gaconi and Jesuit’s C.J. Avrard will have continued their dominance on the mound. Avrard won the first meeting by a scant 1-0 score.
The loser of this second-round game will be particularly dangerous as it goes from the mode of the hunted to the hunter. Every game will be played with the resolve of having to revalidate itself as a championship contender.
But neither Jays’ coach Joey Latino nor Martin’s Mark Wisniewski have won a district championship with the outcome of that game. Not in this league, which also features teams like Archbishop Shaw (18-9) and Archbishop Rummel (18-10). Although they are not keeping pace with the leaders, Holy Cross and St. Augustine are capable of upsetting any team that is not ready for the challenge.
A balanced scale
There are few factors that separate the Crusaders from the Blue Jays. Perhaps Brother Martin has a little more power at the plate, but Jesuit can counter that with pitching depth.
Greg Deichmann has hit 10 home runs for Martin (the record for a season is 18). Owen Magee and Daniel Lahare are also proficient long-ball hitters.
On the other side are Avrard (6-0 on the mound) and Brandon Sequeira (also 6-0). Both carry earned run averages below 2.
Which team has the edge? That may not be known until well into the state playoffs. But rest assured that the coaches of these two teams would not trade places with their peers. This level of competition is what they live for.
Barbe’s two losses were to 11th-ranked Destrehan, 5-3, on March 3, and to West Monroe (12-14 record) on March 14. The Bucs haven’t lost since. Their district (2-5A) has just one member with a losing record: New Iberia (11-13). So, there is no question that Barbe has beaten quality opponents.
A block of Baton Rouge- area teams will also be a factor in the playoffs, which begin at the end of the month.
From District 4 are the current Nos. 4, 7 and 8 seeds – Denham Springs (21-8), Live Oak (21-7) and Zachary (19-9). And from District 5 are No. 9 St. Amant (21-7) and No. 10 Catholic (18-10), the reigning 5A champion.
And, in his last season as Destrehan’s head coach, Marty Luquet, has his No. 11 Wildcats playing to their full potential. And you know they’ll want to give him a retirement gift he will long remember.
So, the title chase is almost set. Teams have been preparing for the post-season by scheduling opponents that can enhance their power ratings around district games.