Playoff baseball obviously agrees with Pedal Valves pitcher Cyle Clayton.
The Holy Cross right-hander recorded his second consecutive dominating performance of the postseason Monday by striking out 13 batters in a one-hitter that paced the reigning state champions to a 1-0 victory against Townsend Homes in a winners bracket pairing of the American Legion State Championship Tournament played at Mike Miley Stadium in Metairie.
Clayton (2-0) pitched 6.1 no-hit innings before surrendering a seventh-inning single to Dellary Oubre that produced Townsend’s only real scoring threat. After issuing a walk, Clayton retired the side with two strikeouts to strand runners at second and third.
A Nicholls State signee, Clayton struck out 15 in tossing a two-hitter to defeat Retif Oil 1-0 in last week’s Southeast Louisiana Regional Tournament. That victory secured the Cardinals a state tournament berth.
The Cardinals scored the game’s lone run in the bottom of the second when former Destrehan catcher Andrew Morrow doubled in Rummel's Zach Cook from first base with two outs. Cook had singled with one out.
“It’s pretty clear that Cyle (pronounced Kyle) likes to have the ball in his hand in a big game,’’ Pedal Valves coach Danny Riehm said. “He’s got a bulldog mentality. He hits his spots. And with the defense we have behind him, it makes him tough to beat.’’
“I consider myself to be one of the best (area pitchers) and that has to be your mindset if you want to be good,’’ Clayton said. “This was a big game and the main thing for me was I wanted to throw strikes, first-pitch strikes, and do what I could to help my team win.
“I knew we weren’t going to score many runs because their pitcher, Robby Gilbert, is very good. My command today wasn’t great, but it was pretty good. My curveball was really good.’’
Pedal Valves (23-6) advanced to Wednesday’s championship game scheduled for Kirsch-Rooney Stadium, although the independent-based Cardinals first must play Gauthier & Amedee (24-5-1) on Tuesday at Miley 30 minutes following a 4 p.m. elimination game between St. Charles Catholic-based Townsend (8-7-1) and the St. Louis Bank Indians (10-3) of Opelousas.
Both games in the rain-plagued state tournament are scheduled for Miley, which served as the site for all three of Monday’s games in which St. Louis Bank defeated the River Ridge Patriots 5-2 and Gauthier & Amedee edged the Southland Hogs 4-3 in a pair of elimination games.
John Curtis-based River Ridge completed the tournament with a 1-2 mark and 9-3 overall record. Southland also finished the tournament 1-2 and 20-8.
“I’m proud of our team,’’ Riehm said. “Back-to-back summers we’re in the state championship game and that was our goal. St. Charles Catholic is a very good team. They compete so hard. That’s what (coach) Wayne Stein preaches, and they embrace it. They make you beat them.’’
Gilbert (2-3) was touched for six hits over six innings, but only two during the final four frames. The junior-to-be right-hander struck out two and walked none.
Despite the defeat, Townsend turned in a second consecutive stellar effort that followed a 4-0 upset of Gauthier & Amedee on Sunday. The Homes also had defeated Pedal Valves 7-6 to win the Second District West Tournament and earn a berth in the state tournament after dropping a 2-1 regular-season decision to the Cardinals.
“Again, I don’t ask my kids to win. I ask them to compete, and that’s what they did,’’ Townsend coach Wayne Stein said. “So I’m proud of them. I know we’re not happy with the way we performed at the plate, but you’ve got to give a lot of credit to their pitcher, Clayton, for that.
“What was most impressive about him today was his command. He didn’t put runners on for free. And he was throwing his curve ball for strikes and throwing it in situations when you would expect him to be throwing a fastball. I know the kid is a competitor and that’s what he did today.’’
PEDAL VALVES 1, TOWNSEND HOMES 0
Townsend Homes 000 000 0 — 0-1-1
Pedal Valves 010 000 0 — 1-6-0
Top hitters — TOWNSEND HOMES: Dellary Oubre 1-2. PEDAL VALVES: Andrew Morrow 2-2, 2B, RBI; Zach Cook 1-2, run; Austin Haensel 1-3, 2B; Lyall Ball 1-3; Justin Ory 1-3.
W —Clayton (2-0). L — Robby Gilbert (2-3).
Team records: Townsend Homes 8-7-1; Pedal Valves 23-6.