NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A young Retif Oil team ran into the worst thing it could in the opening round of the American Legion Mid-South Regional Thursday afternoon: experience on the mound.
Bryant (Arkansas) Black Sox right-hander Nate Rutherford, who just completed his freshman season at Arkansas Tech, was way too much for the Louisiana state champs in a 9-1 thumping.
With the loss, Retif faces Kansas at 9:30 a.m. Friday in the consolation bracket.
The MVP in the 2012 Class 7A state tournament, Rutherford has not allow a hit until the fourth inning and worked 7.2 innings, allowing four hits and just one run. Not overpowering he just had three strikes outs, but had three innings where he threw less than 10 pitches. Devin Dupree worked the final four outs, two of them on strike outs.
“I thought he was very good,” said coach Joey Latino. “He just pounded the strike zone with his two or three pitches and kept us off-balanced. We had a couple of opportunities, we loaded the bases there in the fourth I think it was and we were only able to scratch for the one run and we loaded them up again later in the game.
“In terms of experience (playing in college) it makes a difference. He definitely showed poise. The few times we did get him in a little bit of trouble you could see he was very poised. He had a lot of composure. The maturity that is where the experience comes into play and I thought he had a lot of that.”
Trailing 5-0, Retif Oil broke through in the fourth, but could not do enough to get back in the game. Alex Galy had a leadoff walk and Dan Edmond followed with a single to center. A walk to Trent Forshag loaded the bases with no outs. Scott Crabtree’s fielder’s choice grounder drove home Galy, but a pickoff and fly to center ended the inning.
Retif loaded the bases again in the seventh with one out, but Bryant, who has won two of the past three large school Arkansas state titles, got out of the inning with a double play.
Back-to-back two-out singles by Galy and Edmond knocked out Rutherford in the eighth but Dupree got out of the inning with a strikeout.
“It is disappointing to start the tournament that way but we are going to come back tomorrow and try to get back in the winners bracket and take it from there,” said Latino.
“I saw a few deer in the head light looks to be honest with you but we have got to get over that and we better get over that in a hurry because we are here and we playing for something that is very, very special. Now we have made the road extremely tough and we will see how this young group responds tomorrow.”