The River Ridge Patriots pounded 16 hits off of Otto Candies Post 131 on Wednesday to take a 14-1 seven-inning win and earn themselves a spot in the American Legion state tournament to be held later this month at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium in New Orleans.
It is the Curtis-based Patriots’ first trip to the tournament since 2013 when they advanced to Sulphur, and it comes on the heels of the school’s Class 3A state championship in May.
“We’re excited about it,” Patriots coach Johnny Curtis said. “We’re excited about the opportunity. We’re missing five of our middle-of-the lineup guys, but I’m real impressed with how some of the younger guys have stepped up in the lineup and taken the load and taken the leadership role. We started the season 0-3 and we finished up 8-5. So I’m proud of the way we finished.”
Among the youngsters who stepped up Wednesday was rising sophomore pitcher Ian Landreneau, who threw five innings, giving up four singles, walking five and striking out six. On a strict pitch count, Landreneau was relieved after giving up a single in the sixth. Otto Candies knocked four hits off of reliever Austin Hensel and score its lone run in the bottom of the seventh.
The game ended after seven innings under the mercy rule.
“I didn’t have the best of my stuff today,” Landreneau said. “I wasn’t really locating very well. But I got the ball on the ground and the defense made the plays.”
It also helped that the Patriots offense scored early and often. Leadoff batter Mason Matherne started the game with a single to right, stole second and scored on a single by Jay Curtis. The Patriots added four runs in the third inning, four in the fourth, three in the sixth and two in the seventh. River Ridge sent eight batters to the plate in the third and fourth innings and batted around in the sixth.
Hensel led the team at the plate with a 3-for-5 performance, including an RBI single in the sixth and an RBI double in the seventh. Trent Cormier went 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the third and a three-run home run in the fourth. Jay Curtis went 3-for-4 with a pair of singles and a double. Matherne finished with a pair of singles and a pair of walks, including one with bases loaded.
Otto Candies (9-7-2) scored its lone run in the bottom of the seventh with the help of a Patriots’ error that allowed Braxton Dufrene to reach first safely. Dufrene scored on a single by Peyton Keller.
The Hahnville-based team, which has been to the state tournament three years in a row, now enters a regional tournament which will decide the rest of the State Tournament field.