Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Sports Editor

After a nightmarish 23-13 loss to Nationwide Restoration on Saturday afternoon, Valero-St. Charles Coach Marty Luquet promised that his team “wouldn’t go quietly” from the American Legion’s Southeast Regional.

He and his team have kept his word.

The Destrehan-based squad captured a 10-3 win on Sunday over Hood Chevrolet and a 12-4 win Monday over Time Saver at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium to stay alive in the double elimination tourney.

“We came out a little weak,” said Valero pitcher Matthew McCune, who went seven innings on Monday and notched his fifth win of the summer. “But we regrouped. Our team is united, and we’re ready to do what we need to do.”

Valero’s opponent for Tuesday was unresolved at presstime, between Jesuit-based Retif Oil and Fuel and Brother Martin-based Peake BMW. The team needed at least two more victories in the tournament to win the regional.

McCune (5-0) withstood sweltering heat Monday afternoon to allow only five hits and three earned runs against Shaw-based Time Saver – all coming after the game was in hand.

McCune fought a back injury for much of the summer, but the 6’2 right-hander is pitching his best at the right time.

“He did a super job for us,” said Luquet. “To throw seven quality innings in this kind of heat, and only allow (five hits), you can’t beat that.”

Valero (29-3) led 4-1 in the sixth inning when the offense broke the game open. A double by Andrew Suffrin led off the inning, followed by a single and a walk by Sam Carriere and Trey Watkins.

Matt Smith hit a ball to second, but an error on the throw to first allowed two runs to score, making it 6-1. In the next at-bat, Josh Rochelle doubled to plate another two runs, making it 8-1.

Time Saver (16-12) added two more runs, but allowed three of its six unearned runs in the last three innings to give Valero its 12-4 margin of victory.

McCune struck out seven in the contest.

And even on the balls hit into play, he had little worry.

“The fielding behind me was dynamite,” he said. “I had confidence in them, and they had confidence in me. I knew coming in we were in for a good day.”

Valero 10, Hood Chevrolet 3 – After three innings on Sunday, it appeared that Valero might have been on the verge of elimination – Fontainebleau-based Hood Chevrolet was outhitting Valero 7-6 and winning the game 3-2.

But things turned around in a hurry. Pitcher Hunter Tyree relieved starter Byron Clark with two out in the third inning, and Valero out-hit Hood 10-2 the rest of the way, scoring eight runs on the way to victory.

“About the time he entered, the game changed,” said Luquet of Tyree. “Byron wasn’t 100%, he’s been fighting injury. But Hunter came in and did the job.”

Tyree said that he and his teammates knew it was time to respond.

“We just had to get better,” he said. “We were getting yelled at in the dugout, nobody was hitting, or making plays. I figured I’d just try to start us off.”

That he did in the fourth inning. Only minutes after recording the final out of the third, Tyree tripled to lead off the fourth. After Peyton Quigley walked and stole second, Suffrin singled to score both runners and give Valero the lead for good.

RBI singles by Carriere, Watkins, and Smith pushed the lead to 7-3, and an error led to the eighth run of the game, and the sixth of the inning for Valero.

Meanwhile, Tyree (6-1) retired the first nine batters he faced before an Eric Priola single. It would be the only hit he’d allow.

Nationwide Restoration 23, Valero 13 – Watkins again showed why he was named All-State this past prep season, hitting for the cycle and going 4-for-5 on Saturday.

    But that was the only good news for Valero, which fell behind 11-0 after a disastrous first inning and trailed Rummel-based Nationwide Restoration (22-8) by over 20 before scoring a run, eventually falling in eight innings by the 10-run rule.

    Valero pitcher Josh Rochelle had difficulty locating his pitches early on, allowing a lead off home run to Matthew Fury, walking three, and throwing two wild pitches before leaving the game trailing 3-0 and with the bases loaded.

     A base hit and a walk each plated a run before five consecutive Nationwide hits gave the team a 11-0 lead.

    Kyle Zara (1-0) earned the win for Nationwide.

    Nationwide’s Beau Zeringue joined Watkins, as he also hit for the cycle in the game.