St. Charles Catholic-based Townsend Homes has consistently finished strong at the plate throughout the Southeast Regional American Legion baseball tournament, and they hope to continue that trend for one more day.
After getting off to a slow start in the batter’s box on Sunday, Townsend’s offense came to life late as it pulled away from Rummel-based Deanie’s Seafood for a 5-1 win at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium, moving on to the final qualifying game of the tournament.
With the win, Townsend Homes advances to play Mandeville-based LLOG Exploration at 11 a.m. on Monday to claim the last automatic qualifying spot from the Southeast Louisiana Regional into the state tournament, which will be played July 18-22.
“I just think it all comes down to our guys and how mature they are,” Townsend Homes coach Wayne Stein said. “They’ve been in so many situations and so many big games that they know what it takes in these kinds of moments.”
Brother Martin-based Peake BMW already grabbed one of the spots in the state tournament with its 10-2 victory over Deanie’s in the driver’s seat game on Saturday. They will play in the championship game Monday at 2 p.m. against the winner of the LLOG-Townsend Homes game.
“I just kept telling myself to push through because we were just one game away from making it to state,” Townsend Homes starting pitcher Brennan Gilberti said.
Both teams struggled to break a 1-1 tie through the first six innings, but Townsend Homes got big hits in the latter part of the game that gave them two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings.
Austin Weber had an RBI single in both innings, and Lloyd Nash had an RBI single in the eighth.
“We’ve got seven starters returning that played in 33 prep games last year, and these guys don’t get rattled,” Stein said. “I don’t think we get too high or too low in these kind of game, and that’s just a tribute to how hard-nosed our kids are.”
Townsend Homes got a much-needed strong performance from rising sophomore Gilberti, who threw eight innings, giving up one run on five hits with two strikeouts.
“When we scored those runs in (the seventh and eighth) it just really gave me confidence,” Gilberti said. “Once I was able to play with the lead, all I had to worry about was just going out and throwing strikes.”
Zach Weber entered the game in the ninth inning in relief of Gilberti, allowing two runners to reach base, but he escaped the inning unscathed.
In the first game of the day, LLOG Exploration handed Peake BMW its first loss of the tournament by racing out to an early lead and holding on to an 11-8 victory.
LLOG continuously took advantage of Peake’s defensive mistakes throughout the game, racking up 18 hits and forcing the Brother Martin-based club into five errors.
Six teams from the state have already qualified for the state tournament — including three New Orleans-area teams that won their respective district championships.
Retif Oil (Jesuit), River Ridge Patriots (John Curtis) and Refuel (Shaw) each won district titles and will be joined by Crowley Millers (Crowley), Delhomme Drillers (Acadiana) and Gauthier & Amedee (Gonzales).