Big third inning pushes Culicchia past Reserve

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011



MARRERO — Wednesday’s battle between East St. John-based Reserve Post 159 and John Ehret-based Culicchia Neurological in American Legion play tilted one way for good in the third inning, as Culicchia scored five runs and turned what was a 5-3 lead into a 9-3 advantage on its way to a 12-5 win at home.

The victory moves Culicchia to 1-1 in Second District play and 4-3 overall this summer.

After trailing 4-0, Reserve battled back to cut its deficit to one when Bruce Winn came up with the based loaded and socked a triple to bring everyone home in the top of the third inning.

It seemed to give Reserve momentum, but a number of mistakes cost the team dearly in the bottom half of the inning — walks and errors fueled a five run frame, capped off when Tanner White scored from third on an errant exchange on a throw back to the mound. That made it 9-3.

“They just jumped ahead of us,” said Reserve coach Ronald August. “We pushed back after that huge triple by Bruce that could have changed the game in our favor. But we gave up the big inning again.

“If we could stay out of those big inning situations, we’d be a hard team to beat. But it’s about cutting out the mistakes.”

Culicchia starter Curtis Ashford retired Reserve in order in the top of the fourth, and in the bottom half Ashford’s RBI double and Trey Edwards’ RBI single pushed the team’s lead to 11-3.

“We settled down,” said Culicchia coach Jonathan Usey. “We were making some base running errors, and I was making some errors as a coach that I had to clean up. We sometimes tend to get off track when we get ahead. But everything settled down and we started to play baseball the way Ehret plays baseball.”

Reserve started to battle back again in the sixth after Ashton Lewis’ leadoff walk. Justin Moore brought him home via a single. Aykeem Brown walked, and with two outs Ryan Foster singled to knock him in.

But that’s where the Reserve rally would end. Yuan Vail’s RBI triple in the sixth ended the day’s scoring, putting Culicchia up by seven for the 12-5 final.

Diontra’ Rixner took the loss for ESJ. Daniel Franklin and Winn combined to finish the game in relief.

August said that in addition to eliminating mistakes in the field, the maintaining of mental focus among his pitchers is something that can be improved upon, particularly with two outs.

“You’ve got seven guys behind you, so you don’t need to do everything yourself,” said August. “Pitch to contact, let the defense work. We can’t walk three guys then give them a chance to hit a triple, as happened today.”

Today, Reserve will face Destrehan-based Valero-St. Charles in a matchup of teams that are district foes in the prep season. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at East St. John.

“There’s always a little extra get-up in everyone’s step when we play each other, on both sides,” said August. “I know Marty will have them ready, and we’ll be ready too.