Saltaformaggio’s 7th inning single lifts Valero over Townsend, 2-1

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Sports Editor

Valero-St. Charles’ Joey Saltaformaggio had just told Coach Marty Luquet that this was the situation he wanted to be in. Now, it was time to prove it.

Valero had just tied its game with Townsend Homes at 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, and now had two outs with the bases loaded. Saltaformaggio stepped in, his at-bat to determine if his team would extend its undefeated Second District record.

Townsend’s B.J. Cancienne let go of a fastball, and Saltaformaggio connected. He lined a base hit into centerfield, driving home the winning run as Destrehan-based Valero toppled St. Charles-based Townsend Homes, 2-1.

“I told my coach, ‘I want this,’” said Saltaformaggio after his first-ever walk-off at-bat. “I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but I told him I wanted to come up with the bases loaded, to send us home with a win.”

It was the fourth such victory for Valero (12-1, 4-0), which has taken four victories in its final at-bat this summer en route to finding itself on top of the American Legion’s Second District.

It’s a stark contrast to Townsend Homes (3-6, 2-2), which has found itself ahead in the final inning in each of its last three games, only to lose in the end.

This time was as frustrating as any for Townsend, which led from the game’s second batter all the way to its second-to-last.

But the team’s Achilles’ heel in this stretch has been hitting with runners in scoring position – failure to extend a 1-0 lead cost Townsend dearly on Monday.

“We just can’t finish,” said Townsend Coach Paul Waguespack. “We left nine runners on today. We’re leaving them on with less than two outs. We just didn’t get any home.”

Saltaformaggio’s hit was set up by the top of the Valero order earlier in the seventh. Sam Carriere led off the inning with a double, but was thrown out at third after a bunt by Shane Babineaux. A single by Trey Watkins put runners at first and second.

After Townsend Coach Paul Waguespack called for Cancienne to relieve starter Marc Picciola, an infield, slow rolling hit by Pat Roth loaded the bases.

Cancienne walked Matt Smith, bringing home Babineaux for the tying run. After a fielder’s choice force out at home, Saltaformaggio came up to bat.

He said he felt the fastball coming.

“I knew he’d try to throw it by me,” he said. “I was sitting, waiting on the fastball.”

Before that inning, runs were quite hard to come by for each squad.

Valero pitcher Byron Clark walked Alex Marse to open the game. Marse stole second, and a single by D.J. Wesley gave Townsend a 1-0 lead early.

    Brandon Becker and Nick Reine would each reach to load the bases for Townsend, but Clark was able to induce a double-play ball from Grant Authemont to end the threat.

    Valero would leave its own share of runners on in the bottom of the first, though. Shane Babineaux and Trey Watkins each reached in the bottom of the first. But Townsend catcher Matt Bonnecarre threw out Babineaux, who attempted to steal third – it was the first of three occasions that Bonnecarre would throw out baserunners trying to steal.

    “When that happens, that’s coaching. It was my fault,” said Luquet.

    Picciola escaped that inning unscathed, and rolled through each of the next three innings.

    In the bottom of the fifth, however, Valero threatened to bust the game open. After a single and an error put two on with two out, Picciola pitched around the dangerous Trey Watkins to load the bases for Pat Roth. Picciola got Roth to pop out to end the threat.

“He threw well. It just wasn’t enough to win,” said Waguespack.

    But Townsend was unable to get anything going, failing to come up with an insurance run.

    “Our pitching was able to keep it at one, and that was the key,” said Luquet. “It could have got worse, we let some runners on. But it gave us a chance to win it.”

    Peake BMW 5, Townsend Homes 4 – Townsend led by four runs entering the seventh inning, but five runs by St. Paul’s-based Peake BMW in the bottom of the inning lifted host Peake to a 5-4 win in a non-district game.

    “I think it comes down to a lack of focus,” said Waguespack. “We get runs in the first through fourth innings, then nothing in the last three.

    “That tends to happen in the summer time, and that’s my fault. It took away from a good outing by (pitcher) Henri Fauchier.”

    Fauchier went five innings and struck out six batters.

    “Every time he goes out there, he looks better and better. We’re excited about that,” Waguespack said.

    Picciola had two RBIs and Brady Hitt had one in the game. Authemont hit a solo home run in the fourth inning.