Retif puts out Valero

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 25, 2008


Sports Editor

Destrehan-based Valero-St. Charles’ Sam Carriere pumped his legs as fast as he could as he rounded third base, giving all he had to extend his team’s summer season.

But a perfect throw dashed his hopes.

In the top of the ninth, with his team up a run and Carriere taking off from second, Retif Oil and Fuel right fielder Evan Schiavi didn’t have time to think as a ball hit by Valero’s Matt Smith dropped in front of him. In one motion, he just scooped it and fired a laser to catcher Derek Dunham, who blocked the plate and tagged Carriere for the game’s final out.

It meant Jesuit-based Retif would live to fight another day at the Southeast Regional, after winning a 6-5 game at UNO’s Maestri Field on Tuesday. It meant that Valero would not, suffering its second loss in the double elimination tourney.

“I saw him going home, and I just threw it as hard as I could,” said Schiavi. “It was instinct. Just the way I was taught.”

Carriere attempted to get around Dunham’s tag, but it was not to be.

“As I was rounding third, I knew even if the ball beat me, there was a small chance I could be called safe,” said Carriere. “I ran with all I had, and hoped for the best.”

Valero Coach Marty Luquet had no regrets after his decision to send Carriere home on the play.

“There’s never a guarantee that the next guy up is going to get a hit,” Luquet said. “At this level, too much can happen. I’ll take that gamble every time.

“Credit (Schiavi), he made a perfect play.”

Retif would go on to Wednesday, where it would defeat Rummel-based Nationwide Restoration, 9-7, and Brother Martin-based Peake BMW, 6-2, to win the Southeast Regional championship. Retif now advances to the American Legion State Tournament in Gonzales, beginning Aug. 1.

Valero (29-4) trailed 5-2 after seven innings, but as Luquet promised earlier in the tournament, the team would not go quietly. Smith and Josh Rochelle each reached in to lead off the eighth, and a single by Hunter Tyree cut the Retif lead to 5-3.

Retif’s Stephen Lukinovich relieved pitcher Jordan Rittiner, who started the game, before a wild throw from Dunham to second base sailed into the outfield on a pickoff attempt. Rochelle scored to cut the lead to 5-4, before Lukinovich retired the next three batters.

Rochelle, Valero’s starting pitcher, allowed no runs in the eighth inning, giving his team a shot in the ninth. After Carriere reached with on out, Trey Watkins came up to bat, invoking memories of the prep season when he hit four home runs in a game against Jesuit. He came close to hitting another, smashing a deep shot to the centerfield warning track before it was caught for an out.

“I thought it had a chance,” Luquet said.

That set up Smith’s single, and Schiavi’s heroics.

Luquet was disappointed in the loss, but could express no such displeasure with his team’s efforts after the Legion season.    

“We came in to get some answers, and they gave us a lot more than that,” he said. “They gave us some thrills, some great performances, and a lot of excitement.”