Retif Oil, Louisiana’s American Legion Champs, Sustain a Thrashing in Opening Game of the Mid-South Regional Tournament in Little Rock
BULLETIN: Tournament in Weather Delay. Retif – Kansas game scheduled to start Friday, August 8 at 9:30 a.m. may be played at a different stadium as Legion officials scramble on this 2nd day of an 8-team tournament. Heavy rain has flooded the main field used yesterday. Forecasts call for 50% chance of thunderstorms in the Little Rock area.
Retif Oil has experienced some disappointing, head-scratching losses this summer, but the 9-1 whipping by the American Legion’s Arkansas champions on the opening day of the Mid-South Regional Tournament on Thursday, August 7 in Little Rock was enough to coax rashes among Retif’s faithful contingency.
It wasn’t so much a decisive victory by the Bryant Blacksox, a decent team that surely has played better games. For Retif, it was a case of self-inflicted miscues in perfect harmony with (mostly) lifeless bats. “We have met the enemy and they are us” was the well-known verse from the Pogo comic strip (created by Walt Kelly, who also gave Jesuit the bird that became known as Jayson). Retif has met the enemy and they know who it is.
The upshot is that Retif is in a familiar position, similar to what the team faced most recently in the Legion’s state tournament. All of the Legion’s tournaments are double elimination, including this one in Little Rock. Retif’s loss to the Blacksox means the Jesuit-based team drops into the “loser’s” bracket. One more strike, one more loss, and Retif’s season ends just short of going to Shelby, NC.
Retif plays the Kansas state champions on Friday at 9:30 a.m. Kansas was beaten by Oklahoma, 10-3, in the first game played on Thursday in Little Rock. By noon Friday, one of the teams will be heading home. Coach Joey Latino will most likely start Glynn Hyer on the mound. Hyer and Jack Burk delivered the one-two punch to Shaw-based Refuel that earned Retif a state championship and this trip to Little Rock, where the sticky, sultry weather currently hanging over Arkansas makes the climate in New Orleans feel downright pleasant, almost like being in San Francisco. OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.
Coach Latino turned to Burk to start for Retif against the Blacksox. His no-hitter lasted 3 or 4 pitches as the lead-off batter singled up the middle. Burk, a right-hander, lasted 3 innings. He gave up 4 hits, walked a couple of batters, and struck out 2. Of the 4 Blacksox runs that crossed the plate on Burk’s watch, 2 were unearned. Logan Horning, another right-hander, relieved Burk in the top of the 4th and pitched the remaining 6 innings. With Hornung on the mound, the Blacksox notched an additional 8 hits and 5 runs, although 2 runs were unearned. Horning struck out 4 batters and walked a pair.
By the way, in this tournament, fans are hearing the distinctive “ping” of aluminum bats, which Legion officials have decreed legal, and therefore allowable. (Unfortunately, most of the pings were coming off the Blacksox bats.) Retif’s entire season back home was played with Legion-mandated wood bats. Did the switch make a difference? According to one Retif player, “Not really.”
Not all of Retif’s bats seemed to be dead on arrival. Retif’s 4 team hits are the official Legion stat. But Jeff Chappuis, Retif’s longtime statistician with impeccable credentials and the records to show it, has the team down for 6 hits, all singles. Shortstop Alex Galy and 1B Dan Edmund each had 2 hits. Those are the 4 hits comprising the Legion stats. The other two hits came off the bats of catcher Trent Forshag and designated hitter Scott Crabtree, who returned to the batting lineup after missing the state tournament with an injured shoulder. Crabtree’s shoulder still prevents him from playing left field, which Matt Cedro has covered admirably.
As the team headed back to the bus for the short ride back to the hotel, Coach Latino was asked, “What now?” His answer was matter-of-fact: “We flush this game,” he said. “Flush it down the toilet. Forget about it. We’ve been in the same circumstances before. We know what we need to do.”
What Retif needs to do is beat Kansas in Game 5 Friday morning. A win would keep Retif in the hunt and it also would do wonders for those rashes.