Retif Oil got exactly what coach Joey Latino needed and Refuel had to find a new approach to win as both teams advanced Tuesday to the final round of the American Legion state baseball tournament.
Shaw-based Refuel remained the only unbeaten team in the tournament, defeating Hahnville-based Otto Candies 8-2 in Tuesday night’s game. Refuel and Retif will play at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Retif will have to win twice to win the tournament.
Refuel’s hard-hitting lineup had to get creative in the nightcap, jumping out to a 3-0 lead, scoring twice in the fourth and once in the fifth innings without a base hit. Refuel put the game away in the eighth, scoring five runs.
A hit batter, two errors and a sacrifice fly produced the first two runs. Three walks and another error produced the third run. The usually sharp-fielding Candies committed nine errors.
After Candies scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to cut the margin to 3-2, Refuel sealed the game with five runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Retif received five perfect innings from Brandon Briuglio and scored nine runs in the first three innings to coast to an 11-2 win over North Vermilion-based Gulf Coast Bank.
By the time Briuglio allowed a base runner, Jesuit-based Retif Oil had built a 9-0 lead. His perfect game was broken up with one out in the sixth when Trenton Connor singled. Briuglio lost his shutout when Connor scored on Drake Broussard’s double later in the sixth.
“That’s what we needed today,” Retif coach Joey Latino said after his team’s fourth game of the tournament. “We needed someone to gobble up innings and pound the strike zone.”
And, Briuglio pounded the zone consistently. He threw 12 first-pitch strikes to the first 15 hitters and threw only 58 pitches in the first five innings.
Briuglio allowed five hits in seven innings and struck out seven. He walked none, and Retif did not commit an error until two outs in the ninth.
It was Briuglio’s first win of the Legion season.
“Coach told me to just relax and throw strikes,” the sophomore said. “. . . I knew our defense would make plays.”
Retif’s nine runs in the first three innings were produced on only five hits. Gulf Coast pitchers walked seven, hit three batters and threw three wild pitches.