Retif Eliminates River Ridge, Now One Win Away from American Legion State Championship
After a disastrous first inning for the home-standing Retif Oilers in which they spotted the River Ridge Patriots a 3-0 lead courtesy of two errors, a hit batsman, a walk, and a balk, assistant coach Kenny Goodlett tried to calm his troops as they returned to the dugout.
“It’s always a shootout with these guys,” he said, referring to the John Curtis-based squad. “Let’s just chip away at that lead.”
Boy, was he right about the shootout part. On the chipping away part, not so much.
The Oilers responded not by chipping away but rather by exploding for a ten-spot in the bottom of the frame. At one point in the inning, ten consecutive batters reached base for Retif. The onslaught was so big that the Kirsch Rooney scoreboard couldn’t accommodate the final tally. The official scorekeeper had to settle for a “9” in the 1st inning box, with a “1” in the 10th inning box.
Game over, right? Time for River Ridge to concede and call it a night, yes?
Not so fast. The pesky Patriots were the team that spent the rest of the game chipping away at a lead. Two hours into the evening, the third inning wrapped up with Retif holding a precarious 16-10 lead.
Why, you ask, is a six-run lead precarious? Consider the following. With most of his top arms recuperating from early round action, Coach Joey Latino had planned to start Hayden Fuentes on the mound. But Fuentes was ruled out after sustaining a concussion in the previous game when he was hit by a pitch. So Latino went deeper into the rotation. And deeper. And deeper. By the third inning, with Nick Ray and Connor Maginnis having been pulled, he turned to shortstop Alex Galy. Yes, that Alex Galy. The one who had never thrown a single pitch in varsity-level or American Legion ball during his Jesuit career.
It ended up being a good move. Galy pitched through the end of the seventh inning, posting solid if unspectacular numbers, allowing three runs in four and a third innings of work.
By the time the eighth inning rolled around, Retif was protecting a 17-13 lead and Coach Latino turned to the normally reliable Brandon Briuglio to close things out. But nothing about this game was normal. The first two batters to face Briuglio in the eighth singled, and the Retif fans still on hand teetered somewhere between exhaustion and nervous breakdowns. But Briuglio busted out a wicked pick-off move to nab the runner at second. The runner at first got caught watching the action and was also tagged out on the play. The Patriots did manage to squeak a run across later in the inning, leaving the score at 17-14.
In the top of the ninth, River Ridge managed to get the tying run to the plate, but ultimately left both base runners stranded. More than a few folks in attendance couldn’t help but recognize the 17-14 final–the same score as the the state championship football game against John Curtis last December.
Nine different Oilers knocked in runs on the evening. Brandon Briuglio led the way with three RBIs, while Nick Ray and Mark Beebe each had two. Scott Crabtree, Alex Galy, Stephen Sepcich, Josh Schmidt, Ben Hess, and Connor Maginnis all had one. Schmidt narrowly missed a grand slam in the first inning, knocking a pitch over the left field wall but just outside the foul pole. Instead, he got his RBI the hard way–getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Galy, in all likelihood, finishes his pitching career with a perfect 1-0 record.
Retif is now one game away from the American Legion state championship and a ticket to Little Rock. Standing in the way are the Acadiana-based Delhomme Drillers. Game time is 4:30 Tuesday at Kirsch Rooney Stadium. If Retif wins, the tournament is over. If they lose, a winner-take-all game will be played 30 minutes after the completion of the first.