Retif Oil Is Focused and Firing on All Cylinders in the American Legion’s City Series Tournament
Retif Oil and Ponstein’s Feel the Heat in a Split Doubleheader, Creating a Championship Showdown on Sunday to Decide the Winner of the American Legion City Series
July 2: Baseball Bulletin… Retif Oil Finds Itself in a Must-Win Situation
Retif Oil split a doubleheader against Ponstein’s in the American Legion’s City Series on Saturday, July 2, at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium. Retif dropped the opening game to Ponstein’s, 10-5, and won the second contest, 7-5. That means Retif and Ponstein’s return to the Rooney to play for the City Series championship on Sunday, July 3. First pitch is 2 p.m. Admission is $8 for this game and children 10 and under are admitted free. The winner of the City Series is exempt from playing in the Legion’s Regional Tournament next weekend and automatically qualifies as one of the eight teams that will play for the American Legion State Championship the weekend of July 23-24 at Kirsch-Rooney. The loser will compete, along with Peake BMW, at the Regional Tourney scheduled July 8-10 at the Rooney. The Oilers are the Legion’s defending state champion, the Mid-South Regional champions, and runner-up of the 2015 American Legion World Series.
July 1: Baseball Bulletin…
Jesuit-based Retif Oil defeated Brother Martin-based Peake BMW, 5-1, in the feature game of the American Legion’s double elimination City Series Tournament Friday evening, July 1, at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
The Oilers, along with Holy Cross-based Ponstein’s, return to the Rooney Saturday, July 2, for some doubleheader action. First pitch is 10 a.m. Ponstein’s beat Peake in the opening game Friday afternoon.
The two back-to-back losses “eliminated” Peake, and while this might sound ominous, it’s not the end of the world, according to the Legion. That’s because the Legion’s 1st District is comprised of only three teams: Retif, Ponstein’s, and Peake. Whatever the outcome of Saturday’s 10 a.m. game between Retif and Ponstein’s, the two rivals will barely have a chance to catch their breaths before playing again at 1 p.m.
If either Retif or Ponstein’s wins both games of Saturday’s doubleheader, the City Series is over. If the doubleheader is split with each team staking a win (it doesn’t matter which team or which game), Retif and Ponstein’s will play a decisive game for the championship on Sunday, July 3, at noon.
The eventual winner of the 1st District City Series is guaranteed a spot (with seven other teams) in the Legion’s state tournament. The City Series champion team is also exempt from playing in next weekend’s regional tournament. The City Series runner-up, whether Retif or Ponstein’s, will join third place Peake at the Legion’s regional event.
Fans of American Legion Baseball will be treated to some fireworks on the diamond this Fourth of July weekend as the 1st District City Series starts off with a bang-up doubleheader Friday, July 1, at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
The Legion’s 1st District is comprised of only three teams, and super rivals they are: Jesuit-based Retif Oil, Brother Martin-based Peake BMW, and Holy Cross-based Ponstein’s. The first game of the City Series pits Peake against Ponstein’s with first pitch at 4 p.m. Peake turns around and plays Retif Oil in the feature game with first pitch around 7 p.m. The Oilers will then play Ponstein’s Saturday, July 2, with first pitch at 10 a.m. at the Rooney. The rest of the City Series schedule depends on the outcome of the first three games, but the tourney is expected to wrap on Sunday, July 3 (and possibly on Saturday).
From here on out, American Legion tournaments (City, Regional, and State) are double elimination events and games are extended to nine innings instead of the usual seven during regular season. There is no time limit and the 10-run rule takes effect after seven innings. (The time limit during the regular season was two hours and fifteen minutes.)
The winner of the 1st District City Series automatically earns a berth in the American Legion’s State Tournament and will be exempt from playing in next weekend’s regional event. The state tournament will take place at the Rooney the weekend of July 23-24. Fans are reminded that in the event inclement weather renders the Louis “Rags” Scheuermann Field unplayable at Kirsch-Rooney, the backup venue is John Ryan Stadium.
Retif Oil – #1 Seed in 1st District
Retif enters the City Series as the number one seed with a 9-1-1 Legion record and an impressive 18-3-1 overall record, among the best of the state’s 23 Legion teams. To determine seeding, Legion officials only count Retif’s games played against Ponstein’s (8-1-1), Peake (1-3-2), and any of the 10 teams — five in the East Division and five in the West Division — that comprise the 2nd District.
A 10-Game Winning Streak
Retif’s 5-1 victory Friday night against Peake extended their consecutive win streak to 10 games. It started Sunday, June 12, when Retif defeated Catholic High (B.R.), 3-2, at the Ryan. Two nights later at the Ryan, Retif beat Pelican Waste & Debris (Vandebilt Catholic of Houma), 5-1. Retif scored those five runs despite going hitless in the game. Five runs were the result of 12 Retif players waiting for ball four, along with four Oilers getting plunked by pitches. Neither of these games factor into Retif’s 9-1-1 1st District Legion record.
Retif (3) vs Ponstein’s (0) – Thursday, June 16
Retif’s rematch against Ponstein’s ended in a 3-0 shutout at the Ryan. Retif right-hander Collin Kulivan was in full command of the mound and pitched the entire game, giving up two hits, five walks, and striking out 11. The win was Kulivan’s third of the season against no losses. As crazy as it sounds, Ponstein’s outhit Retif, 2-1, but Ponstein’s pitchers also walked nine Retif batters and beaned one. Retif’s only hit was off the bat of catcher Alex Watermeier, whose single drove in two runs. Still, it was one more hit than what the Oilers mustered two nights before in their 5-1 win over Pelican.
Retif (4) vs Peake BMW (0) – Friday, June 17
Buoyed by the shutout of Ponstein’s and determined to play better baseball than the 1-1 tie indicated after their first game (June 6), the Oilers’ rematch against Peake at the Rooney had a happier ending, although it was slow to come. The game was scoreless heading into the sixth inning. That’s when outfielder Mack Miller banged a big double with two runners on base.
“I told Mack if he gets a fast ball, it’s going to come early in the count and be unready to unload on it,” recalled Coach Joey Latino. “He got it on the first pitch and he did exactly that – Mack hit it good, got it into the gap, and drove in the first two runs.”
Retif scored two more runs in the sixth on an error. The 4-0 win over Peake was the team’s second straight shutout and fourth win in a row. Southpaw Davis Martin pitched a full seven innings for the Oilers, giving up four hits, walking two batters, and striking out seven to notch his first win of the summer season.
Following the Peake shutout Friday evening, Retif players showed up at the Ryan the next morning for a much-needed team practice. Coach Latino said the guys needed to return to some basics.
“We needed to get back and do some drill work,” he explained. “We’re expecting to see improvements in our at-bats and things like that, and it’s hard when all you’re doing is game, game, game, game, game. At some point you have to get back to drill work, some teaching and instruction, and that’s what we did.”
Coach Latino had several players working in the batting cage at the Ryan. “Those four hits (against Peake) don’t sound like a lot, but for us that’s as many as we’ve had in the last three games combined,” he said.
And, no, Coach was not even trying to be facetious. “It is what it is,” he said with a shrug. “For us to get four hits and hit a couple of more balls on the screws, that’s good. It means we’re moving in the right direction.”
Retif (11) vs Refuel (8) – Monday, June 20
Retif crossed the river to Marrero to play Shaw-based Refuel on the Eagles’ home field, which took a cleating as the two rivals scattered a total of 21 hits in the game. Refuel’s bats woke up first as they took a 4-0 lead after three innings. Retif pounded out a total of 11 hits and when the dust settled, the Oilers had won their fifth straight game, 11-8. Three Oilers had two hits apiece: outfielders Michael Torry and Mack Miller, and shortstop Andrew Cashman, filling in admirably for Nick Ray, who has missed several games nursing a shoulder injury. Right-hander Chris Beebe started on the mound and went four innings, giving up six runs on five hits, walking two and striking out one batter. He was relieved by another right-hander, Christian Hess, who pitched the last three innings. He gave up two runs on five hits, but held on to get the win, his third of the season against no losses.
Retif (1) vs EH&S Wildcats (0) – Tuesday, June 21
Coach Latino and his team boarded a yellow Jesuit bus for a quick ride up the river to Destrehan to take on the ES&H Wildcats. The Oilers came home with a sixth straight win, a 1-0 shutout behind the pitching of Collin Miller, who threw a complete “2” game: he gave up a pair of hits, walked two Wildcats, plunked two, and struck out two. The win improved Miller’s record to 3-1. As a team, Retif swatted seven hits, including a pair of singles by second baseman Marc Theberge and catcher Parker Serio. Designated hitter Alex Watermeier hit a double.
Retif (4) vs Plum Street SnoBalls (1) – Wednesday, June 22
On Wednesday, June 22, Retif was back at the Rooney to play the Plum Street SnoBalls, also known as the Patriots of John Curtis. The Oilers melted their opponent, 4-1, for their seventh consecutive win. Jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first provided a cushion for the Oilers. Marc Theberge walked, stole second, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice, and scored easily when Alex Watermeier singled. First baseman Marshall Lee singled to advance Watermeier to third base. Mack Miller then popped up in shallow right field, causing three Patriots to converge in “no man’s land” and miss the catch, allowing Watermeier to plate Retif’s second run of the inning.
The Oilers tallied five hits, including a double by Watermeier in the fifth inning that scored a run. Collin Kulivan pitched a no-hitter the first four innings. He walked four batters and struck out three. He was relieved by Andrew Cashman for the final three innings, giving up two hits and striking out one batter. Cashman picked up the win to improve his record to 2-0.
Retif (13) vs 1st Bank & Trust (0) – Thursday, June 23
Since the field at Kirsch-Rooney was soaked, this game was moved to John Ehret High School whose Patriots are sponsored by the bank. Retif deposited 13 runs, 1st Bank was held scoreless, and this blowout was called after five innings on the 10-run rule. The Oilers managed six hits off several 1st Bank pitchers, who walked a total of 17 Retif batters and plunked a pair. In four plate appearances, outfielder Mack Miller hit a double, scored twice, walked twice, was hit by a pitch, and garnered four ribbies. Outfielder Michael Torry notched two singles, walked twice, drove in a run and scored one run. Outfielder Tripp Ledet walked three times and scored three runs. Christian Hess extended his pitching record to 4-0, allowing only two hits and issuing two walks, while striking out seven to help Retif to the team’s eighth straight win.
Retif (5) vs Gulf Coast Bank & Trust (0) – Friday, June 24
The Oilers put up early numbers on the Rooney’s scoreboard — one in the first, another run in the second, and three more in the third inning. The 5-0 lead over Chalmette-based Gulf Coast Bank held up for the remaining four innings to give Retif its ninth consecutive win and sixth shutout of the season. Stephen Sepcich sent a fastball over the fence in center field for his second home run of the Legion season, scoring Alex Watermeier, who was on first base after a walk.
Davis Martin walked the first two batters, but quickly settled down. The game was only the second win of the season (against no losses) for the versatile Martin, who yielded one lonely hit while fanning nine batters, a fine performance over seven innings if there ever was one. He relies primarily on his fastball and curve, and less frequently, a cutter. He’s got one of the best change-ups of any prep pitcher and upon delivery, many batters have left their shoes where they were standing.
A double-header scheduled last Saturday, June 28, was canceled because of severe weather. Retif and Gauthier & Amedee played one inning before rain and lightning cleared the field. Play was resumed an hour later but near the end of the fourth inning, with Retif ahead, 4-1, the incessant rain made it unsafe for the players. The game was canceled, along with any statistics.
Retif’s summer schedule has the team playing as often as possible. At one point, Retif had played 15 games while Ponstein’s and Peake each had played only about half a dozen.
“We added a bunch of games, we looked for opponents, and we looked to keep playing because we had to find our guys innings,” explained Coach Latino. “I have to get young pitchers on the mound so they can get work and get experience and that’s the way we do it. We’re blessed to have John Ryan Stadium. While everybody else was getting rained out on a lot of days, we were playing. That’s the way we’ve always done it and that’s the way we’re going to continue to do it.”