Forget Practice, Retif Oil Is Busy Playing Games, and Winning Most of Them
Sliding Past the Halfway Point of the 2016 American Legion Season, Retif Chalks Up an Impressive 11-3-1 Record
View the Photo Gallery of Retif’s 3-0 Win Over Ponstein’s
Since the start of this summer’s American Legion baseball season back on May 28, it has been virtually non-stop for Jesuit-based Retif Oil. Twelve games in 13 days is an awful lot of “playing” baseball, which leaves little time to “practice” baseball.
Retif puts its respectable 11-3-1 record on the line when it hosts Holy Cross-based Ponstein’s on Thursday, June 16, at John Ryan Stadium. First pitch is 7 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday night at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium, but all the wet weather the region has seen lately rendered the Louis “Rags” Scheuermann Field unplayable.
Retif and Brother Martin-based Peake BMW are scheduled to play Friday night, June 17 at 7 at Kirsch-Rooney, provided the field is firm enough to withstand cleats.
Retif, Ponstein’s, and Peake are the only teams that comprise the First District of Legion baseball. Retif has played each of its rivals once this season. The June 6 game against Peake ended in a 1-1 tie after surpassing the 2:15 time limit the Legion imposes on regular games. Retif clung to a 1-0 lead after the first inning, but gave up the tying run late in the seven-inning game. Each team had opportunities to score in extra innings, but after nine complete innings, Legion officials used the clock to end the game.
Two nights later, on June 8, Retif had Ponstein’s on the ropes by jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Retif added a run in the sixth for a 2-0 lead. But Ponstein’s scored one run in the bottom of the sixth, then used the bottom of the seventh to score the tying run, followed by the winning run. The 3-2 walk-off loss for Retif was the team’s second defeat of the season. Retif’s first loss, a 3-0 shutout on June 5 at the Ryan, was against the Delhomme Drillers. Retif’s third loss, by a score of 4-2, was June 11 against Zachary.
“In the loss to Zachary, we completely fouled up a play called the forced balk,” said Coach Joey Latino. “We fouled it up on every level and I told them after the game, ‘That’s the result of not practicing.’ We need to get back on the turf, practice for two hours, and talk about all those things. And we will when the opportunity presents itself. It’s just that we haven’t had that opportunity.”
Of the 11 wins for Retif, here are a few of the most recent that took place at John Ryan Stadium:
♦ A 5-1 win over Pelican Waste & Debris on Tuesday, June 14.
♦ A 3-2 walk-off win against the Catholic Bears on June 12. Retif enjoyed a bang-up game with six hits, including a single and a double from second baseman Marc Theberge; a double by outfielder Stephen Sepcich that plated two runs; a single from first baseman Marshall Lee that scored the winning run; and singles from outfielders Mack Miller and Michael Torry. Davis Martin started on the mound and pitched six complete innings. The left-hander gave up two runs on four hits, walked two batters and struck out three. Collin Miller got the win in one inning of relief to improve his record to 1-1.
Coach Joey Latino was upbeat after watching his team resuscitate itself against Catholic. Down 2-0, Retif scored one run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to beat the Bears in a walk-off win. Stephen Sepcich pelted a double to drive in the winning two runs. Coach Latino said he really liked Davis Martin’s performance on the mound “and the fact we played the last few innings with purpose and we showed a lot of emotion following the comeback win. We never want to come out here and go through the motions. Obviously, summer has a different complexion to it than prep. Our goal is to get better and find ways to win when the opportunities present themselves and we did both things tonight. That’s why I’m pleased. My frustration shows because we have an awful lot of baseball to teach. There’s not a lot of opportunity right now to teach because we’re just playing game after game after game, day after day after day. And that’s hard.”
♦ A 6-3 win over St. Amant on June 11 in which Retif racked up eight hits, including an “inside the Ryan” home run courtesy of shortstop Nick Ray, who also singled. (The homer was Ray’s first of the summer. In the 2015 Legion season, Ray belted three home runs.) Outfielder Tripp Ledet doubled in a run while singles flew off the bats of rising freshman catcher Parker Serio, designated hitter Alex Watermeier, Marshall Lee, Marc Theberge, and Stephen Sepcich. Christian Hess pitched five innings, giving up three runs (none earned) on three hits, walking two batters, and striking out four
♦ A 4-2 victory over Barbe on June 10 in which Retif pitcher Andrew Cashman helped his own cause at the plate with two of Retif’s five hits. The other three hits were accounted for by Watermeier and Sepcich, as well as Theberge, who tripled and scored three of Retif’s four runs. Cashman, a right- hander, pitched an entire seven inning game, giving up two runs on five hits, walking one batter, and striking out four. The win was his second of the season. He was relieved by Collin Miller, who pitched two innings to earn a save, his second of the season.
♦ Another 4-2 win, this one over the Lutcher Bulldogs on June 9. Theberge had three hits, including two doubles, to account for half of Retif’s six hits. Nick Ray and Mack Miller each hit a double, while Cashman singled. Right-hander Collin Kulivan pitched six complete innings to earn his first win of the season. Kulivan gave up two runs on three hits, walked a batter, hit two batters, and struck out 10. That’s right: ten batters struck out against Kulivan. Chris Beebe earned his first save in one inning of relief pitching.
♦ A 1-0 shutout of De La Salle in eight innings on June 7. When Alex Watermeier isn’t the DH, he’s usually behind the plate catching. Watermeier had two of Retif’s five singles and scored the lone run when Tripp Ledet singled. Outfielder Bryce Musso and third baseman Hunt Conroy accounted for the remaining two hits. Zack Smith, a Southpaw and rising senior, threw the entire game, including the one extra inning. He gave up six hits, walked two batters, and struck out four. The shutout was his first of the season and improved his record to 3-1.
“We’re just going through the grind of playing a lot of games, seeing a lot of action,” said Coach Latino, “and we’re doing well, but there’s a lot of work yet to be done.”
Through 15 games, Retif is batting .226 as a team, although three individuals have stood out: Stephen Sepcich (.350), Marc Theberge (.282), and Nick Ray (.259). Of Retif’s 79 hits, Sepcich has 14, Theberge has 11, and Ray has seven hits. Sepcich and Ray each has a home run.
Coach Latino admits that the team has struggled with hitting. “Some of that is inexperience and some of it is (using) wood bats, which neutralize a lot of things,” he explained.
“And some of it is… “ He was looking for the right words. “…We’ve got work to do. We’ve got hitters whose only experience the entire year has been JV baseball. Now they’re up at a different level where the speed of the game changes. Everything changes and they’re trying to catch up. But it’s going to take them awhile.“