Townsend Homes has earned its stripes as the little engine that could.
Unheralded entering the American Legion state baseball tournament, the St. Charles Catholic-based team is alive and kicking heading into the final day of competition after defeating St. Landry Bank 5-2 in an elimination game Tuesday afternoon at Mike Miley Stadium.
Townsend’s win featured superlative relief pitching by Nick Roberts and a four-run sixth inning highlighted by second baseman Kaile Levatino’s go-ahead, two-run single.
“I don’t know if there’s ever been a school this size (approximate enrollment of 300) go this far in the state tournament," Townsend coach Wayne Stein said. “I know I sound like a broken record but, again, our kids continue to compete. It looked like we were going home, and we find a way to scrap for a couple of runs by playing small ball, which we are able to do."
Townsend recorded its third victory in four games in the double-elimination event, with its lone loss being a 1-0 decision Monday against the tournament’s final undefeated team, the reigning state champion Pedal Valve Cardinals.
Townsend (9-7-1) plays the winner of Tuesday night’s game between Pedal Valves and Gauthier & Amedee at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Mike Miley Stadium. Townsend needs two victories to win its first state championship.
Townsend must defeat Pedal Valves twice Wednesday if the Cardinals beat Gauthier & Amedee on Tuesday night. Townsend would have to defeat Gauthier & Amedee if it beats Pedal Valves and then face Pedal Valves in a 7 p.m. championship game.
Townsend defeated Gauthier & Amedee 4-0 in a winners' bracket game Sunday. St. Landry Bank (10-4) went 2-2 in the tournament.
“We’re the first team from Opelousas ever to win a game in the state tournament, and we won two," coach Matt Standiford said, referring to the Indians’ victories against Holy Cross-based Ponstein’s and the John Curtis-based River Ridge Patriots. “Our pitching was phenomenal all weekend. It kept us in all of the games. We had timely hitting in two of our games, but today we had runners on and couldn’t come up with the hit. You can’t do that against a good team like Townsend Homes and expect to win. But I’m super proud of my guys."
Townsend overcame a 1-0 deficit with a four-run eruption in the top of the sixth that featured Levatino’s two-run single that scored left fielder Nick Lorio and shortstop Robby Gilbert to put the team ahead 3-1.
First baseman Dellary Oubre led off the sixth with a single, advanced to third on catcher Jordan Jensen’s single and tied the score at 1 on a wild pitch. A squeeze bunt by right fielder Riley Loupe scored third baseman Peyton Broussard with the fourth run.
A sacrifice fly by Lorio scored Jensen with Townsend’s final run in the seventh, which was followed by a single run by the Indians via a Roberts third-strike wild pitch in the seventh. Roberts ended the threat with a groundout to second.
Roberts (2-2) struck out two, walked two and allowed four hits and two earned runs while working six innings in relief of Townsend's starter, Lorio.
Townsend’s defense provided some early momentum when slick fielding by Broussard at third allowed the team to work out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the second. After an error and two walks loaded the bases, Roberts relieved Lorio, and Broussard followed by stabbing a stinger for out No. 1.
On the next pitch, Broussard backhanded a grounder at third, touched the bag and fired to first to complete a double play. Broussard added a similar double play in the fourth to squash another bases-loaded threat after third baseman Jacob Manuel had brought home the game’s first run with an RBI single.
“Some people don’t want to go this far," Roberts said. “They want to go on vacation. But after that second inning, we wanted to be here. We feel like nobody can beat us."
TOWNSEND HOMES 5, ST. LANDRY BANK 2
Townsend Homes 000 004 1 – 5-7-1
St. Landry Bank 000 100 1 – 2-4-4
Top hitters: Townsend Homes – Kaile Levatino 2-3, 2 RBIs; Dellary Oubre 1-3, run; Jordan Jensen 2-4, run; Nick Lorio 1-3, run, RBI; St. Landry Bank – Cain Ludeau 2-2, run; Jacob Lejeune 1-2, RBI.
Winning pitcher: Nick Roberts (2-2). Losing pitcher: Jacob Manuel (0-1).
Records: Townsend Homes 9-7-1; St. Landry Bank 10-4.