CONWAY, Ark. — Retif Oil survived a heat index of 114 degrees and the Southwest Shockers out of Lawton, Oklahoma to post a 9-2 win Friday and reach Saturday’s 6 p.m. semifinal of the Mid-South Region American Legion Tournament at Hendrix College’s Warrior Field.
Retif, the only 3-0 team in the tournament, will face the Bryant Blacksox, the Arkansas state champion, in the second semifinal. The first will feature the Shockers, the Oklahoma champion, against the host Conway Cougars at 2 p.m. Semifinal winners will meet at 2 p.m. Sunday. If necessary, a final game will follow.
Retif coach Joey Latino told his team gathered on the field after the game, “We are 29-6 because of all of you.”
“This puts us into Sunday, and that’s what we wanted,” Latino said later. “I hate sounding corny, but I get choked up when I talk about this team. I’m doing it now. … It’s just a great group.
“Just to see everything we’ve gone through and to see them have this chance to play on Sunday means a lot.”
The Mid-South champion will advance to the World Series in Shelby, North Carolina, beginning Aug. 13.
“These are our guys,” he said of Jesuit-based Retif.
Retif Oil, which won this tournament en route to a World Series championship season in 2012, improved to 29-6-1.
Brandon Briuglio, a senior, went seven innings before cramping up. He scattered seven hits, gave up two runs and two walks, struck out five and walked two. He went 3-for-5 with three singles and two RBIs and scored two runs
“I was trying to throw strikes and let our defense make the plays,” Briuglio said. “The plan was for me to go as long as I could.”
Latino praised his pitcher.
“It was brutally hot, and Brandon did a tremendous job in the efficiency category,” he said. “Defensively, we had a couple of hiccups. Offensively, we got timely hits.”
Retif Oil finished with nine runs on 11 hits and committed three errors. The Shockers managed two runs, seven hits and also committed three errors.
Briuglio got things started in the top of the first with a one-out single to left field. He went to second on an error and scored on Trent Forshag’s single. Scott Crabtree’s single sent Forshag to third, but both were stranded there.
The Shockers tied the game at 1-1 on Tucker White’s RBI single in the bottom of the first, but Retif came back with a three-run second to take the lead. Stephen Sepcich was hit by a pitch to start the inning, went to second on Connor Maginnis’ groundout and to third on a wild pitch. Harrison Daste then reached on an error, and Nick Ray’s single scored Sepcich. Briuglio’s two-run single scored Daste and Ray for a 4-1 Retif lead after two.
The Shockers got one run back in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Sawyer Tool to make it 4-2, but Retif answered with a three-run fifth. After a fly-out, Ben Hess and Crabtree singled and Dan Edmund walked to load the bases. Shockers pitcher Gerrett Curry hit Sepcich for the second time to score Hess. Maginnis then ripped a two-run double down the third-base line for a 7-2 lead.
Briuglio led off the top of the sixth with a bloop single. Forshag reached on an error, and Edmund delivered a two-run double for the final margin, 9-2.
In Friday’s elimination games, the Conway Cougars rallied from a 5-0 deficit for a 9-7 win over Texas and the Bryant Blacksox sent Tupelo (Miss.) home, 7-1.