Otto Candies staked itself to a 6-0 lead in Saturday’s opening game of the 2016 American Legion Southeast Regional Tournament.
But the Hahnville-based team had to hang on for a 7-5 victory over Rummel-based Deanie’s Seafood at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium in New Orleans.
Dane Wise, Otto Candies’ starting pitcher for only the fifth time, was a major part of the win. The incoming junior pitched six scoreless innings, before running into trouble in the seventh when Deanie’s closed the gap to 6-4. Wise said having a big lead to work with helped him. He allowed only three hits and struck out six.
“It makes you relaxed,” Wise said. “I had confidence in my team behind me, so I knew I could throw strikes.”
The third-place team from Second District West, Otto Candies (15-8-1) got on the board in the top of the first when Cade Miguez and Austin Perrin led off with walks. Hunter LeBlanc bounced a double down the left-field line that scored Miguez, and Perrin scored when Josh Nunez dribbled a roller toward third base. LeBlanc scored on the throw home to put Otto Candies ahead 3-0.
Deanie’s got two runners on base with only one out in the bottom of the first, but Wise worked out of the jam.
Otto Candies tacked on another three runs in the top of the seventh. Perrin led off with a triple that bounced around the right field fence and scored on LeBlanc’s grounder to shortstop that rolled into center field for an error. LeBlanc stole second and third and scored on a wild pitch. Nunez walked, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Matt Champagnen to make the score 6-0.
Deanie’s (7-7) finally got its bats going in the seventh. After recording a strikeout, Wise allowed consecutive singles to Jacob Fury and Craig Lindsey and a bunt single by Luke Lacoste. Zach Cook beat out an infield single that scored a run, and Lyall Ball cleared the bases with a double to the fence in right-center, which made it 6-4.
Charlie Beck followed later with a fly-ball to left that appeared would be a sacrifice fly that would score Ball, but the umpire ruled that the runner left too early, and the inning ended with Otto Candies holding a two-run edge.
Deanie’s loaded the bases with one out again in the eighth off Champagne, who relieved Wise. Evan Francioni, who had singled, came around on an error off the bat of Craig Lindsey. But Champagne coaxed a shallow fly-out and a groundout to help Otto Candies maintain its lead.
Wise doubled home Nunez, who had tripled, in the ninth to give Otto Candies an insurance run.
“Giving (Wise) a three-run lead in the first was huge,” said Otto Candies Coach David Baudry. “He did a great job. I think he reached that point in the seventh where he was kind of winded. But our other pitchers, Matt Champagne and David Vial, did a great job too. I think we need to be more consistent defensively (with three errors,) but in a nine-inning game in this heat, I think you’re going to have lulls.”
Deanie’s coach Nick Monica said the early walks, which aided Otto Candies’ early runs, were critical. Deanie’s was the second-place team in Second District East this season.
“We have to take it one game at a time and try to work through the losers bracket,” Monica said. “We got ourselves into trouble this summer with walks. They score three runs off one hit, and that will get anyone off to a bad start.”
Otto Candies will play in a winners bracket game at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Deanie’s will play in a losers bracket game at 9 a.m.
The top two teams from the Southeast Regional will advance to the American Legion state tournament later this month, also at Kirsch-Rooney. The other six teams in that tournament have already been determined.
River Ridge Patriots 3, Townsend Homes 0: The Patriots’ Austin Haensel pitched a complete game, two-hitter to send his team to the winners bracket.
Haensel faced only two batters over the minimum through five innings (he allowed a walk and a single in the third), before a 1-hour, 52-minute weather delay stopped play Saturday afternoon.
Hansel came back just as strong after the long break. He finished the game with six strikeouts and walked only one.
The game began as a pitchers' duel, with Townsend Homes’ Evan Pfister matching Haensel pitch for pitch. But Pfister was pulled heading into the seventh, after allowing three hits and striking out seven in six innings.
Three Townsend errors and a misplayed ball in the top of the eighth were the difference. Princeton Stevens led off with a single and advanced to second when the Townsend center fielder misplayed the ball. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Shane Goins and scored when a grounder by Collin Guggenheim was booted. A Townsend outfield error scored Guggenheim and a throwing error in the infield scored the third run.
River Ridge will play in the final winners bracket game on Sunday night. Townsend will play in the second losers bracket game early Sunday afternoon.