Retif Oil has learned one thing in its march to the championship game of the American Legion Baseball state tournament: Where there’s a Will, there’s a way.
Junior standout Will Hellmers had an RBI single while pitching six-plus innings before he was relieved by Will Moran, who completed a 4-1 dismantling of the tournament’s final undefeated team, Gauthier Amedee, on Wednesday night at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
Retif’s victory, which was preceded by a 2½-hour weather day, necessitated a second game to determine the state champion. That game started at about 9:20 p.m.
Retif's victory avenged a 6-4 loss to Gauthier Amedee in a Sunday winners' bracket game.
Both teams have secured berths in next month’s Mid-South Regional. Retif’s berth was secured because it is the host team for the Mid-South Regional, which is scheduled for Aug. 8-13 at Kirsch-Rooney.
Retif (19-4-1) was playing for its 14th state title in American Legion and first since winning consecutive titles in 2014 and 2015.
Gauthier Amedee (31-3) lost for the first time in five games in the tournament. The Wombats were seeking their first state Legion title since 2013.
Hellmers (4-1) struck out six, walked three and scattered eight hits in holding the Wombats to a single run before being forced to exit by a 105-pitch-count maximum.
Moran relieved Hellmers in the bottom of the seventh after a one-out walk and a single put runners at first and second.
Moran, who started the game in center field, then finished the 1-2 count Hellmers had established against center fielder Zane Zeppuhar with a strikeout before ending the game by retiring first baseman Jack Merrifield on a ground out to third.
Retif scored two runs in the first inning on only one hit.
Moran was hit by a pitch to lead off the game. Shortstop Seth Dardar then walked to set up first baseman Brian Valigosky’s one-out RBI double that preceded a run-scoring sacrifice fly by catcher Zack Casbonne.
Four scoreless innings ensued before the First District champions tacked on a third run in the top of the sixth via a one-out single by Casbonne, which was followed by Conner Bendeck’s RBI single.
Gauthier Amedee finally broke through with one run in the bottom of the sixth that threatened to be more.
Merrifield singled with one out and two batters later advanced to third on a bad hop single to short by right fielder Carson Dabadie. Left fielder Jordan Badame immediately followed with a run-scoring double to right before catcher Reid Bouchereau flied out to center field for the final out.
The Wombats threatened again in the seventh when second baseman Brayden Caskey walked with one out and third baseman William Dunn singled to put runners at first and second.
Valigosky paced Retif’s seven-hit offensive with a 3-for-4 effort that included a double, two singles and a RBI. Hellmers, Casebonne, Bendeck and second baseman Matt Alexander each had single hits with Hellmers, Casebonne and Bendeck recording RBIs.
Dabadie and Badame paced Gauthier Amedee’s eight-hit attack by each going 2 for 3. Badame’s hit produced the Wombats’ lone run.