Surging bats key Valero in playoff win over Townsend
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 16, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
There’s no doubt that Destrehan-based Valero-St. Charles has a deep and talented pitching staff, one that’s been a driving force in the team’s 24-2 record entering this past weekend’s Second District West playoffs.
But if anyone needed a reminder: these guys can hit, too.
Valero clinched a berth in this weekend’s Southeast Regional after a six inning, 16-6 victory over Townsend Homes at Destrehan on Saturday.
Valero scored four runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings to clinch victory by the 10-run rule, which gave the team its second win of the weekend’s double elimination Second District West tournament.
Valero (26-2) defeated East Jefferson-based Bell Office Machines 7-1 on Friday to set up the clinching game.
The Southeast Regional will begin Saturday at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium in New Orleans. Matchups were not yet set at presstime.
According to centerfielder Trey Watkins, sometimes breaking through once is all it takes for Valero’s offense to get going.
“Coach always tells us, get one, and the rest will come,” said Watkins, who went “We did that, and we got on a roll.”
The loss meant that Townsend Homes (11-11-1) would go on to an elimination game on Sunday at Hahnville against Otto Candies. Otto Candies won to advance to be the West’s second representative at the Southeast Regional. (See story on Page 9A)
Early on, Townsend Homes had the advantage. After D.J. Wesley singled and Brady Hitt doubled, Brandon Becker doubled to bring both home and make it 2-0 in the top of the second inning.
Valero quickly responded. RBIs by Andrew Suffrin and Sam Carriere tied the game in the bottom half of the inning.
Townsend fired back in the third. An RBI double by Nick Reine and an RBI single by Wesley put Townsend back ahead 4-2.
In the fourth, Townsend threatened to break the game open, with men on second and third with one out. But Tyree retired Alex Marse and Jesse Coleman to end the threat.
“If they had scored there, it could have put some serious pressure on us,” said Valero-St. Charles Coach Marty Luquet.
Instead, Valero took control. Reine relieved starting pitcher Marc Picciola before the third, and retired the side in order.
But Valero emerged with a 8-4 lead after a six-run fourth inning. With one on and one out, Carriere, Watkins, Matt Smith and Tyree all singled to produce two runs and tie the game.
Watkins would give his team the lead for good when he scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-4. A sacrifice fly by Josh Rochelle made it 6-4. Then came the big blow – a towering shot by Devin Damare cleared the centerfield wall with one on, making it 8-4.
Townsend closed the gap temporarily in the fifth when a Wesley grounder scored Picciola, and James Krawczyk scored on a wild pitch from third to make it 8-6.
But a home run by Tyree to lead off the bottom half of the fifth was the catalyst for the eight-run Valero scoring surge to close the game.
It was business as usual for a team that’s hit .340 over the course of the summer.
“We were on an emotional high coming in off the win over (Otto Candies on Thursday),” said Luquet. “We were able to keep it going.”
A handful of errors and mental mistakes plagued Townsend late in the game, leading to Valero extending the sixth and seventh innings.
“We can’t give those guys extra outs,” said Townsend Coach Paul Waguespack. “We gave them five extra ones for sure today.
“We had our chances. We just didn’t make a play. (Late in the game), we played like we didn’t believe we could come back.”
As for Valero, Luquet and his team now have a chance to extend their season farther than a year ago, when it ended at the Southeast Regional.
“I feel great about it,” said Watkins. “I feel like we have the most pitching of the teams that’ll be there. Everyone on the team can basically throw. We’ll see how it goes.”