Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 6, 2010



DESTREHAN — The monkey is off the back of Townsend Homes.

In each of the three seasons leading up to this year, Destrehan-based Valero-St. Charles and Hahnville-based Otto Candies have downed the St. Charles Catholic-based squad to eliminate it from the second district tournament.

But the tables have turned in 2010, as Townsend opened this year’s tourney with a 5-2 win over Otto Candies on Saturday, then a 5-2 win over Valero on Monday to clinch a trip to the American Legion Southeast Regional at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium this weekend.

Townsend Homes had two more games scheduled at the Second District tourney to determine its seeding for the regional.

But its ticket — finally — is punched.

“It feels really good,” said senior Townsend pitcher Jared Keating. “This is the first time we’ve gone since I’ve been here.”

Said Townsend coach Paul Waguespack: “It feels good to finally break through.

“Our goal each summer is to get to that regional. Now it’s to earn the top seed. But anytime you come out and beat a team the quality of Valero, you’re excited.”

Valero overcame a sterling pitching effort from Townsend ace Jared Keating late in the Legion regular season to rally and capture a 4-3 win.

It looked as if it might do the same again on Monday, cashing in on some clutch hits and Townsend mistakes to build a 2-0 lead.

With one out in the first inning, Valero loaded the bases on an error, a walk and a single before Brett Hebert poked a two out single to left to bring home the day’s first run.

In the fifth inning, Jesse Bryant reached on an error and scored on Sam Carriere’s two out base hit up the middle.

But in the sixth, Townsend answered in a big way.

Donnie Savoie singled, then back to back doubles by Macky Cortez and Brady Hitt made it 2-1.

“That was a huge hit by Brady,” said Waguespack. “Battling back from an 0-2 count and coming up big.”

Said Hitt: “When you keep playing hard, you’ll come up clutch. Good things will happen.”

Cortez scored on a passed ball to tie the game. Shane McNeil walked, then Dustin Zimmer launched the third double of the inning to left to put Townsend ahead.

Chad McNeil collected the fourth, clearing the bases with a double to left and making it 5-2.

In the sixth, Bryant walked and Cameron Quigley each reached for Valero, but Keating wriggled free. Then in the seventh, Zach Schexnaydre and Scott Stonestreet each got on with two outs, but Cody McMurry struck out Hebert to end the game and earn the save.

“We played well in the first game against them, but we let it get away,” said Waguespack, referring to his team’s 3-1 seventh inning lead in the first game before a Valero home run tied things up. “But not this time.”

Keating went six innings, allowing five hits and striking out five.

He attributed much of his success to becoming reacquainted with an old friend — his curveball.

“I’ve been working on throwing a cutter this summer,” said Keating. “Coach Wag said to go to my curveball today, though, and I found it.”

Waguespack was more than pleased with Keating’s effort.

“The difference was that he threw his curveball as well as he’s ever thrown it,” said Waguespack. “He had all three pitches working.”

For the first time in four years, Townsend opened up with Otto Candies. It would take two days to reverse the jinx, as Thursday’s game between the teams reached the fifth inning tied at two before being postponed due to rain.

The next day the teams resumed and Townsend seized momentum.

Savoie singled and Cortez doubled before Hitt walked to load the bases. Then Keating reached on an infield hit to put Townsend ahead 3-2. Shane McNeil hit a sacrifice fly to bring home a fourth run, and a single by Zimmer capped the scoring.

Cody McMurry earned the win, pitching six innings. Keating finished things in the seventh for the save.