Victorious Retif re-dedicated to keep going
“Rededicate” and “refocus” were the buzz words Coach Joey Latino used to prepare his Retif Oil American Legion baseball team for its next mission.
His Jesuit-based squad had just defeated Delhomme of Lafayette for the Louisiana state championship and a berth in the Mid-south Regional Tournament.
Although his players could hardly contain themselves, Latino’s admonishment didn’t fall on deaf ears. But, had they, one could have forgiven the victorious boys in blue who have until Aug. 5 to rededicate and refocus for their regional match-up with the Kansas champion in Conway, Arkansas.
Retif showed its versatility and poise throughout the state tournament, played at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium two weeks ago.
Through constant stop-pages and delays caused by either intermittent rain or lightning, Retif outlasted six other teams (including two from its own district) to remain unbeaten through the final pitch. And the lineup did it in a variety of ways, from outlasting a 17-14 slugfest with River Ridge in the semifinal round, to a championship game that was quite the opposite.
Stocked with players from Acadiana High in Scott, Louisiana, Delhomme had the dominant pitching corps in the state tournament.
To get to the finals, Delhomme defeated Gauthier & Amedee, 1-0, behind the 17-strikeout pitching of Derek Boutin. Boutin plans to attend the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, but does not want to play baseball.
Retif faced another Delhomme ace in Tanner Broussard, who struck out eight Retif batters and allowed just four hits until the fatal ninth inning.
That’s when the blue team’s bats came alive. Ben Hess started it off with a base hit. Trent Forshag slammed a double off the left field wall to send Hess flying around the bases.
But the fielder, Josh Sogga, recovered the ball and hurled a perfect throw to catcher Devin Boutin that caught a sliding Hess just inches short of the plate.
Forshag was denied his RBI, but he received a greater gift when Scott Crabtree smacked the third base hit of the inning to send Forshag home with the deciding run.
The run gave the victory to pitcher Mason Mayfield, who hurled a masterful five-hit, five-strikeout performance.
The win marked the second time Retif had defeated Delhomme. Two days earlier, Latino’s team won, 6-2, to send Lafayette into the elimination bracket.
The Mid-South Regional Tournament opens on Aug. 5 with the Missouri champion meeting Oklahoma at 9 a.m.
Retif and Kansas will begin one-half hour following the end of that game.
Texas faces Arkansas at 4:30, and the final game of the opening day matches host Conway, Arkansas, against the Mississippi champion.
Retif is one of 24 American Legion baseball teams in Louisiana. Its opponent, Kansas, has 74 teams.
Missouri’s 128 teams dwarf the number in the other competing Mid-South tournament.
Mississippi has the fewest Legion teams (9), one more than Georgia, the smallest program in the U.S.
While travel teams have diluted the national American Legion programs in most states, Pennsylvania (297 teams), Nebraska (284) and Wisconsin (217) continue to host solid programs.
The Mid-South champion may face some of these in the World Series, which is scheduled for Aug. 13-18 in Shelby, North Carolina.