NEW ORLEANS – Little did anyone know the Blaise of glory that Gauthier Amedee would be unleashing on the final undefeated team in the American Legion Baseball Mid-South Regional on Saturday.
Playing their second consecutive elimination game and facing the reigning Mid-South champions, the Wombats handed the ball to unheralded Blaise Foote and the East Ascension right-hander delivered in stunning fashion in spinning a complete game effort to down Bryant, Ark., Post 298, 6-1, at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
Foote (4-0) surrendered eight hits while striking out four, walking two and working out of scoring threats in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Foote also overcame a one-hour, 15-minute weather delay midway through the third inning before finishing by retiring six of Bryant’s final seven batters in order to move the Wombats within two victories of their first American Legion World Series appearance in Shelby, N.C., since 2013.
“This probably was one of the top wins that I’ve had,’’ said Foote, a junior this past season at EA. “We’re trying to make it to Shelby and now everybody in the tournament has one loss. We were coming back from a devastating loss (on Thursday). I felt great.
“I told (the coaching staff) that my arm felt great in the bullpen (warming up after the delay) so let me roll. They let me go back out and I went out and finished it. I want to give a big shout out to the defense for standing behind me and only allowing the one run.’’
Offensively, the Wombats collected nine hits with center fielder Zane Zeppuhar homering in the first for the game’s initial run and first baseman Jack Merrifield and catcher Reed Babin immediately following with a single and double respectively to supply Foote with all of the run support he would need.
Merrifield and second baseman Brayden Caskey each had two hits, with Merrifield going 2-for-2 with a RBI-single in Gauthier Amedee’s four-run fourth and Caskey contributing a RBI-single to begin the scoring in the fourth.
The Wombats scored the other two runs in the fourth when Caskey and third baseman William Dunn raced home from second and third on an errant bases-loaded pickoff attempt at first by the two-time reigning Arkansas state champions.
Gauthier Amedee (39-6) improved to 3-1 in the double-elimination tournament and now faces Tupelo, Miss., Post 49 in a Sunday elimination game scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Tupelo defeated Columbia, Tenn., Post 19, 11-7, in a Saturday elimination game after defeating the Wombats, 1-0, in a Thursday winner’s bracket pairing.
Bryant (46-10) had a nine-game winning streak broken by the Wombats while losing for the first time in four games in the Mid-South. The Black Sox advanced to Sunday’s championship game by virtue of being the tournament’s final undefeated team and still can advance to a second consecutive World Series with a Sunday victory.
“When Blaise threw well, he stayed on top of the count,’’ GA coach Marty Luquet said. “He gave up some hits, but he scattered them. He did not pitch much for us this summer because his (East Ascension) coach wanted him to pitch for their Metro League team. But we knew he had plenty of talent because he was winning games for them.’’
Gauthier Amedee enters the final day of the tournament having scored 12 runs in its last seven innings, a surge that began with a six-run sixth that carried the day in a 7-4 victory against Jesuit-based Retif Oil & Fuel in a Friday elimination game.
“We felt like we had to get our bats going,’’ Luquet said. “If we’re going to win this tournament, we had to hit. We were able to get it going against Jesuit in the sixth inning and that’s when our hitting came around.’’
“Blaise did a hell of a job,’’ said Zeppuhar. “But we haven’t been hitting the ball up to our expectations in this tournament until today. I feel like we haven’t been aggressive enough. I got the home run and I think that kind of sparked us.’’
“We’re there on the last day and we’ve got a chance to win it,’’ Luquet said. “They said it takes five and we’ve got three of them. But we know it’s not going to be an easy task.’’
“We’ve got basically our whole pitching staff for (Sunday),’’ Zeppuhar said. “So we should have enough to make it to Shelby. This was the biggest game to win, to put (Bryant) one loss away from elimination.’’
TUPELO, MISS. 11, COLUMBIA, TENN. 7: Right fielder Hammer Franks hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the top of the fifth, then drew a bases-loaded walk during a decisive five-run sixth en route to a 2-for-2, 4-RBI effort that ignited Mississippi’s state champions to victory in an elimination game.
Center fielder Ty Hill’s two-run single capped five-run sixth by the 15-time Mississippi champions that produced an 8-3 lead. Russell Bunch and shortstop Coleton Ausbern also had RBI in the inning to make a winner of starting right-hander Kyle Crigger (6-1).
Tupelo Post 49 (32-5) won for the 10th time in 11 games to improve to 3-1 in the tournament and move within two victories of advancing to its first Legion World Series appearance since 2011. Tennessee champion Columbia Post 19 (26-8) exited with a 2-2 record.
AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL
MID-SOUTH REGIONAL TOURNAMENT
(Aug. 8-12 at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium)
Wednesday, Aug. 8
Game 1: Mississippi champion Tupelo Post 49 49ers 7, Tennessee champion Columbia Post 19 0
Game 2: Arkansas champion Bryant Post 298 Black Sox 8, Kansas champion Salina Post 62 3
Game 3: Louisiana champion Gauthier Amedee 2, Missouri runner-up Cape Girardeau Post 63 0
Game 4: Missouri champion Jefferson City Post 5 2, Louisiana runner-up Retif Oil & Fuel (Jesuit) 1
Thursday, Aug. 9
Game 5: Columbia, Tenn., Post 19 9, Cape Girardeau, Mo., Post 63 8 (Cape Girardeau, 31-13, eliminated)
Game 6: Retif Oil & Fuel (Jesuit) 1, Salina, Kan., Post 62 0 (Salina, 35-4, eliminated)
Game 7: Tupelo, Miss., Post 49 2, Gauthier Amedee (East Ascension) 0
Game 8: Bryant, Ark., Post 298 3, Jefferson City, Mo., Post 5 2 (Jefferson City, 25-10, eliminated)
Friday, Aug. 10
Game 9: Gauthier Amedee (East Ascension) 7, Retif Oil & Fuel (Jesuit) 4 (Refif, 23-9-1, eliminated)
Game 10: Columbia, Tenn., Post 19 4, Jefferson City, Mo., Post 5 0 (Jefferson City, 25-11, eliminated)
Game 11: Bryant, Ark., Post 298 2, Tupelo, Miss., Post 49 0
Saturday, Aug. 11
Game 12*: Tupelo, Miss., Post 49 11, Columbia, Tenn., Post 19 7 (Columbia Post 19, 26-8, eliminated)
Game 13*: Gauthier Amedee (East Ascension) 6, Bryant, Ark., Post 298 1
Sunday, Aug. 12
Game 14**: Tupelo, Miss., Post 49 (32-5) vs. Gauthier Amedee (East Ascension) (39-6), 11 a.m.
Game 15**: Bryant, Ark., Post 298 Black Sox (46-10) vs. Tupelo-Gauthier Amedee winner, 35 minutes following conclusion of Game 14.
Note: *Pairings for Games 12 and 13 will not match previous opponents unless absolutely necessary. **If three teams remain after Game 13, the winner of Game 11 automatically draws the bye into Game 14.
AMERICAN LEGION WORLD SERIES
Aug. 16-21 at Keeter Stadium, Shelby N.C.