Going back to bring it back

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 31, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / July 31, 1999

DESTREHAN – The St. Charles Parish 13-year-old All-Stars’ theme songcould be “Sweet Home, Alabama. I’m Coming Home to You.”Richard Rogers’ one-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning gave St. Charles a 6-4 win over Gonzales in the Louisiana DixieBoys State Tournament Thursday night at the East Bank Bridge Park and sent the All-Stars to the World Series in Palham, Ala.

It’s the second straight year the All-Stars will be traveling to Alabama for the World Series. Last year, St. Charles captured the World Series titlein Troy, defeating Tennessee for the championship.

The 13-year-old World Series opens Aug. 7.Nick Unser opened the bottom of the eighth inning by getting hit by a pitch by Gonzales reliever Cody Giardina and was forced at second on a ground ball by Chris Markey.

After Markey stole second, Rogers took a 1-1 pitch from Giardina over the right-center field fence, starting a memorable trot around the bases that ended with a dog-pile at home plate.

“When I hit it,” Rogers said of when he knew the ball was going out. “Iwas like, ‘Yes, thank God.’ I just can’t explain it, it’s so good.”Rogers’ home run allowed Jordan Brown to pick up the victory. Brown wentthe distance for the All-Stars, allowing four runs and five hits while striking out nine.

The last two of those strikeouts came in the top of the eighth after John Chmurka had singled and Jared Bourque walked with one out. Brown thengot Larry Gunness looking and Brian Babin swinging to end the inning.

Rogers had also came up with two big strikeouts in the top of the first.

Rhett LeBlanc led off with a single to left and was sacrificed over by Matt Moody. Brown then struck out both Brady Dugas and Dexter Fontenot. Both teams had stellar defensive plays in the early innings. Bourque madea running catch in the left field gap to rob Landon Braud of a hit with one out in the bottom of the first. Bourque was then himself robbed of a hit bya diving catch by right fielder Chris Brown with one out in the second.

St. Charles dug into the University of Miami (Fla.) playbook to get out of ajam in the top of the fourth. Dugas led off by reaching on an error andstole second. After Brown struck out Fontenot and got Chmurka to fly outto center, he faked a pick-off to second. Both Rogers and Unser dove forthe “throw,” drawing Dugas off the bag with Brown chasing him down between second and third for the third out.

St. Charles used the momentum from that play to break through in thebottom of the fourth. With one out, Christopher Lanaux singled to rightfield and Unser was hit by a pitch. After both runners moved up on a wildpitch, took a 1-0 pitch from Dugas, the Gonzales starter, just over the left field wall to give the All-Stars a 3-0 lead.

“It kind of shook him up and that was when we did our damage after that,” St. Charles coach Bill Calhoun said of the pick-off on Dugas. Gonzales came right back in the top of the fifth. Bourque led off with asingle to center and went to second on a wild pitch. One out later, Babinwas hit by a pitch and Devin Gautreau reached on an error to load the bases. LeBlanc then lined a single to right field, scoring Bourque and Babinto make it 3-2.

Moody followed with a double in front of a diving Brown in left, bringing in Reid Brignac and LeBlanc for a 4-3 lead. Moody went to third on the throwin on the play.

Markey kept it a one-run game with a diving catch on a liner by Dugas.

After a walk by Fontenot, Brown struck out Chmurka to end the inning.

Unser made another big defensive play in the sixth, leaping to snare Babin’s one-out liner after Gunness had walked. Unser then fired to firstto double up Gunness.

St. Charles tied the game in the bottom of the sixth. Markey led off with awalk and stole second. After Fontenot made an over-the-head grab ofRogers’ pop-up behind third, Rodrigue hit a grounder to short to advance Markey to third. Simon then lined a single between third and short to scoreMarkey.

“The St. Charles Parish Recreation program,” Calhoun said of the key tothe team’s success during the tournament. “It has come very little 10 to12 years ago to being the best in the state, I feel. It allows the kids tohave a chance to play and succeed.”

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