Retif secures state crown with win over Otto Candies

Published 11:45 pm Friday, August 3, 2012




LAFAYETTE — Hahnville-based Otto Candies went over two decades without reaching the American Legion state baseball tournament. Yet there was the team Wednesday, competing for a state championship on the tourney’s final day.

In the end, tournament favorite Retif Oil proved to be too much to overcome. The Jesuit-based team got a strong complete-game effort from Emerson Gibbs and a pair of RBIs from Mitchell Alexander to guide the team to a 5-2 victory at Louisiana-Lafayette’s Tigue Moore Field to secure the American Legion state championship.

Retif went a perfect 5-0 at the tourney; finishing undefeated just as it did at the preceding Southeast Regional tourney in New Orleans. Retif pitchers had tossed consecutive no-hitters in each of its previous two victories; all five starters pitched complete games at the tournament.

Gauthier-Amedee had won the previous two Louisiana crowns. But it was eliminated last week in the Southeast Regional.

“Third time is the charm, I guess,” said Retif coach Joey Latino. “We had been here three consecutive years and we kept having to go back to the drawing board … I think we’re playing at a very high level right now.

“We’ve had five complete game performances from our staff, timely hitting, exceptional defensive plays … These kids deserve the accolades.”

Retif had already defeated Otto Candies on Sunday, rallying back from a ninth-inning deficit to win 3-2. As a result, Otto Candies would have needed to defeat Retif twice Wednesday to secure state honors.

However, both teams qualify for the upcoming Mid-South Regional (see Otto Candies/Peake story below). Otto Candies will open play at that event Thursday, taking on Oklahoma’s representative at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Retif charged out ahead in the second inning. With the bases loaded, Armand Daigle hit a sacrifice fly to score a run. That preceded perhaps the game’s biggest hit: Alexander’s bases-clearing triple that plated two more runs, making it 3-0.

Otto Candies had chances to cut into the lead, but Retif made a trio of impressive defensive plays to hold off a rally. First, Ty Cologne reached on an error and Travis Faucheaux walked to lead off the top of the third. Retif escaped after turning a close double play in which Retif first baseman Michael Gogreve lunged and caught the ball while falling from the bag; he was ruled to have kept his foot touching first, and Cody Farrell, who put the ball in play, was called out.

Then, after Mike Ford led off the fourth by reaching on another error, Tony Fortier-Benson made a diving stop at short to deny Connor Lorio a base hit. Dylan Keller walked with two outs, but a full-extension diving catch in center by Brady Williamson denied Brooks Vial a likely two-RBI hit.

“We made some tremendous plays, and I felt like maybe that took a little life away from them,” said Latino. “Those plays spoke of the desire our players had to win this game.”

Retif added two more runs in the fifth after a Daigle leadoff walk. Fortier-Benson and Matthieu Robert each collected RBI singles, the latter set up by a Fortier-Benson stolen base.

While the trio of Tyler Simmons, Vial and Mark Abate Jr. kept Retif off the board in all but the second and fifth innings, those five runs were enough for Gibbs, a Tulane signee, who allowed just five hits in nine innings of work.

“I don’t know how many games Gibbs has won for those guys. We knew he was good,” said Otto Candies coach David Baudry. “He kept us off balance. Brooks and Mark came in relief and held things down to give us a chance.

Otto Candies’ best push came in the seventh behind three consecutive singles by Keller, Vial and Cologne. The last of those pushed a run across, then Faucheaux followed up by grounding another run home.

But while Otto Candies put a runner on in each of the next two innings, no runs would follow.

“We just couldn’t get the big hit today,” said Baudry. “They made four errors. I’m not sure they had four errors all tournament coming in … When they do that, we have to take better advantage of that.”