Gauthier & Amedee and the Southland Hogs have split six meetings this summer. There will not be a seventh.
The Wombats from Ascension Parish ended Southland’s season Monday in devastating fashion by recording a 4-3 victory in an elimination game in the American Legion Baseball State Championship Tournament played at Mike Miley Stadium in Metairie.
St. Amant starter Dwain Guice pitched six solid innings to earn the victory before giving way to Dutchtown right-hander Jack Merrifield in a scoreless seventh and Merrifield capped a two-run sixth by scoring the decisive run on a Southland throwing error to propel the Wombats into a second straight elimination game Tuesday.
“It ain’t all Rembrandts,’’ G&A coach Marty Luquet said in assessing the seven inning contest that featured three errors by each side and 17 baserunners stranded. “But we still get to come back and tee it up again.’’
Gauthier & Amedee (24-5-1) improved to 2-1 in the double-elimination tournament and faces defending state champion Pedal Valves (23-6) in a Tuesday game at Miley scheduled to start 30 minutes following the conclusion of a 4 p.m. elimination game between Townsend Homes (8-7-1) and the St. Louis Bank Indians of Opelousas (10-3).
Independent-based Pedal Valves defeated St. Charles Catholic-based Townsend Homes 1-0 in a winners bracket game played Monday evening after St. Landry Bank eliminated the John Curtis-based River Ridge Patriots 5-2.
Covenant Christian-based Southland of Houma finished 20-8 after having beaten Gauthier & Amedee in three of five regular-season meetings in Southeast Division play that included a 2-0 victory that forced the Wombats into state qualifying through the Southeast Louisiana Regional.
“Every game we alternated, they won, we won, they won, we won,’’ Luquet said jokingly. “It was our turn.’’
The Wombats scored two runs in the sixth and fourth innings to offset an early 1-0 second-inning deficit and then held off Southland rallies in the sixth and seventh.
St. Amant catcher Ivan Prejean and Merrifield, then playing first base, led off the top of the sixth by reaching base via a hit by pitch and walk. They moved up a base on Larsen Fontenot’s sacrifice bunt and East Ascension's Preston Thrash followed two batters later with a sacrifice fly to right field to score Prejean and advance Merrifield to third.
Merrifield then scored when a throwing error on a steal of second by Ascension Catholic's Nicholas Bellina sailed into center field. An infield fly out ended the threat.
Guice (4-1) and Merrifield withstood Southland rallies in the final two innings to seal the victory. A Southeastern Louisiana commitment as he enters his senior year at St. Amant, Guice struck out five and walked three while allowing six hits in completing six innings.
Pinch hitter Caleb Wilson doubled in two runs with two outs in the sixth for Southland to the Hogs’ deficit to 4-3, but then was picked off second by Guice to end the inning.
Merrifield allowed an infield single to start the seventh, but retired the next three batters in order on two fly balls to the outfield and an infield ground out.
“They always put up a fight,’’ Guice said of Southland. “All of the batters are aggressive and make you battle.’’
But, he added, “We’re not done yet. We’ve still got a lot more to go here. When your back’s to the wall, you’ve got to put everything you’ve got into it. You’ve got to be aggressive, and that’s what we were. You can’t have any regrets.’’
G&A’s two-run fourth was highlighted by Prejean’s sacrifice fly and a run-scoring ground out by Bellina while Beau Freeman’s double scored the game’s first run for Southland in the second.
“I just thought we did a great job of battling,’’ Luquet said. “They had plenty of guys on and we managed to work out of them. We came up with some huge plays. Guice has been lights out for us, but today he was not as sharp as he has been. But what a warrior. He kept battling and battling and battling.’’
As did all of the Wombats.
GAUTHIER & AMEDEE 4, SOUTHLAND HOGS 3
Gauthier & Amedee 000 202 0 — 4-5-3
Southland Hogs 010 002 0 — 3-7-3
Top hitters — GAUTHIER & AMEDEE: Cameron Crawford 2-4, Brayden Caskey 1-2, 2 BBs, run; Zane Zeppuhar 1-4, run; Jack Merrifield 1-2, run, Ivan Prejean 0-2, SF, RBI; Nicholas Bellina 0-2, RBI; Preston Thrash 0-2, SF, RBI . SOUTHLAND HOGS: Gabe Gravois 2-4; Jordan Szush 2-4, 2 RUNS; Beau Freeman 1-2, 2B, RBI; Caleb Wilson 1-1, 2B, 2 RBIS; Austin Labat 0-0, run.
W — Guice (4-1). L — Austin Labat (6-2).
Team records: Gauthier & Amedee 24-5-1; Southland Hogs 20-8.