In a videogame-esque, seesaw affair, Retif Oil outlasted John Curtis-based River Ridge 17-14 after the two combined for 31 runs and 23 hits in an American Legion state tournament game Tuesday night at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
It clocked 3 hours, 37 minutes.
Undefeated Retif Oil hosts the Lafayette-based Delhomme Drillers in the championship game at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Delhomme beat Ascension-based Gauthier & Amedee 1-0 in Tuesday’s other game. If Delhomme wins, a second game would be played 30 minutes after the first one.
Mark Beebe drove in a game-high three RBIs to lift Retif Oil. Eight others contributed at least one RBI, including Nick Ray and Kyle Burns’ two RBIs apiece. Pitcher Alex Galy picked up the victory.
“Mission accomplished,” Retif Oil coach Joey Latino said. “It doesn’t have to be the prettiest thing. Sometimes it’s not and this is an example of that.”
Sloppy defense provided River Ridge a sizeable first-inning cushion. An errant throw to first on what-would-have-been a routine groundout followed by a hit batsman preceded a Trent Cormier RBI single, as a run scored on an errant throw to first and a pitcher’s balk scored another.
River Ridge 3, Retif Oil 0.
Retif Oil, however, atoned.
Its scorecard read: 14 batters, 10 runs, seven RBIs, five hits, four walks and a hit by pitch — all in the bottom of the first inning.
Retif Oil sandwiched 10 consecutive base runners — via hits or walks — between outs one and two, starting with a Brandon Briuglio double two pitches after Nick Ray’s inning-opening fly out.
Briuglio’s hit snowballed into Scott Crabtree’s RBI-infield dribbler, Alex Galy’s RBI blooper to center field, Stephen Steplich’s RBI walk, Josh Schmidt’s RBI hit-by-pitch, Mark Beebe’s two-run hit to the wall and Ray’s RBI shot to shallow left field.
A mound visit ensued. Hunter Bufkin exited. Pitcher Dan Ford entered. The left-hander somewhat curbed the free fall — albeit surrendering three runs himself.
River Ridge’s turn.
“We kept fighting, gave ourselves a chance,” River Ridge coach Johnny Curtis said.
The Patriots chipped away with two runs to make it 10-5. Retif Oil bolstered its lead to 12-5 with two in the bottom of the second before River Ridge’s five-run response narrowed the gap to just three after Kyle Burns’ two-RBI hit, two-RBI walks and a run off a wild pitch.
Scoring never ceased. Both just traded runs and delved deeper into their respective bullpens until the sixth when Retif Oil and River Ridge posted identical goose eggs in the run column in consecutive innings, preserving a 17-13 score.
Cormier registered a team-high three RBIs.
“They’re relentless. They preach that to their boys, and they’re going to fight you until the last out,” Latino said.