CONWAY, Ark. — Jesuit-based Retif Oil put together nine hits and played error-free baseball to coast to a 13-2 win over the Ottawa (Kansas) Arrows in Wednesday’s opening round of the Mid-South Region American Legion Tournament at Warrior Field on the Hendrix College campus.
Retif (27-6-1), the Louisiana state champion, will play at 8 p.m. Thursday against the winner of Wednesday’s late game between the Mississippi champion and the host Conway Cougars. The Arrows (31-9) will play an elimination game at 1 p.m. against the loser of that game.
“In this very same tournament last year, we lost the opener, then we battled back through Day 3, which was good, but good isn’t enough,” Retif Oil coach Joey Latino said. “Any time you can get a win on the first day of a tournament that sets a good tone.”
Retif took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Trent Forshag’s sacrifice fly scored Brandon Briuglio. But the Arrows went up 2-1 in the bottom of the second when Mason Mayfield walked the first two batters and then gave up a two-run single up the middle by Clayton Evans.
Retif Oil regained the lead, 3-2, in the third on Briuglio’s two-run double to right. With one out, Ottawa threatened in the bottom of the inning as the Arrows strung together consecutive singles to load the bases, but a 4-6-3 double-play ended the threat.
The game was then delayed for nearly 2½ hours as thunderstorms passed through the area.
“We started out a little sluggish,” Latino said. “I don’t know what to attribute that to. Mason couldn’t find his best rhythm.”
After the delay, Retif went with David Boh in relief of Mayfield, who gave up two runs and five hits, walked three and struck out one in three innings. In six innings, Boh struck out four, walked two, allowed one hit and no runs in picking up the win.
“Mason had thrown 60 pitches, and after that delay, I didn’t want to bring him back in,” Latino said.
The Arrows, too, changed pitchers after the break, but that move didn’t go so well. Alex Stepp hit Connor Maginnis, his first batter, then walked Dan Edmund and Jake Licciardi to load the bases. After a strikeout, Nicholas Ray reached on an error to score Maginnis. Stepp walked in Edmund, and Trent Forshag delivered a two-run single up the middle as Retif seized control, 7-2.
Scott Crabtree hit a three-run home run over the right-field fence in the top of the sixth to make it 10-2. Maginnis singled home Ben Hess in the eighth for an 11-2 lead. Retif added two more runs in the ninth when Mark Beebe’s groundout scored Michael Sepcich, and Ray scored on the Arrows’ third error.
“The best part of our day was our defense,” Latino said. “We played nine innings of error-free baseball and turned a few double plays.”
The Retif defense turned those double-plays in the third, fifth and seventh innings.
Forshag and Crabtree delivered three RBIs apiece. Hess had two doubles and a single, scored twice and had two RBIs. Briuglio’s double scored two more. Ray scored three runs in six at-bats.
After the opening-round loss last year, Retif, the 2012 Mid-South Regional and national champion, was eliminated one game short of the championship round by Columbia (Tennessee) Post 19, 8-7.
The 2015 squad has not lost a game to a Legion team since early June.