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.
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 to down Bryant, Arkansas, 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 to move the Wombats within two victories of their first American Legion World Series appearance in Shelby, North Carolina, 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.’’
The Wombats collected nine hits. Zane Zeppuhar homered in the first for the game’s initial run and Jack Merrifield and Reed Babin followed with a single and double to supply Foote with all the run support he needed.
Merrifield and Brayden Caskey each had two hits, with Merrifield going 2-for-2 with an RBI single in Gauthier Amedee’s four-run fourth, and Caskey contributing an RBI single to begin the scoring in the fourth.
The Wombats scored the other two runs in the fourth when Caskey and 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, Mississippi, Post 49 in an elimination game scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Sunday. Tupelo defeated Columbia, Tennessee, Post 19, 11-7, in a Saturday elimination game after defeating the Wombats 1-0 on Thursday.
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,’’ Gauthier Amedee 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 has 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: 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, four-RBI effort that ignited Mississippi’s state champions to victory.
Ty Hill’s two-run single capped a five-run sixth by the 15-time Mississippi champions that produced an 8-3 lead. Russell Bunch and Coleton Ausbern also had RBI in the inning to make a winner of starter 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
At Kirsch-Rooney Stadium
Game 12*: Tupelo, Miss. 11, Columbia, Tenn. 7 (Columbia eliminated)
Game 13*: Gauthier Amedee 6, Bryant, Ark. 1
Game 14: Tupelo, Miss. (32-5) vs. Gauthier Amedee (39-6), 11 a.m.
Game 15: Bryant, Ark., Post 298 Black Sox (46-10) vs. Tupelo-Gauthier Amedee winner, 35 minutes after Game 14.