Otto Candies topples Oklahoma champs at regional

Published 12:28 pm Friday, August 10, 2012




METAIRIE – The American Legion Mid-South Regional is nothing short of a tournament of champions. Eight teams are competing for the right to advance to play for a national championship, and seven of those teams are the champions of their respective states. 

The only team of the eight to have not secured its state crown  is Hahnville-based Otto Candies, one of two Louisiana contenders in the field. 

But on Thursday night, Otto Candies showed that it very much belonged. 

It held off a rally by Oklahoma state champion Edmond Sandlot Baseball to secure an 8-7 victory on the first day of the double-elimination tournament. 

Otto Candies was the Louisiana state runner-up to Jesuit-based Retif at last week’s state tournament at Louisiana-Lafayette. As Retif had an automatic bid to the Mid-South tourney due to it being the tournament host this year, the top Louisiana team from the state tourney aside from Retif advanced. 

And the players plan to make the most of their opportunity. 

“It’s an unbelievable atmosphere here,” said Otto Candies’ Mike Ford. “The teams here are unbelievable. It feels like you have to be great to play here, and lately we’ve been doing a pretty good job of being great. We’ve been playing really good, fundamental baseball.”

Said Otto Candies coach David Baudry, “This was the best hitting performance we’ve had this summer.”

That hitting came very much in handy. The normally sure-handed Otto Candies team overcame five errors to win.

“The thing about that team is they just kept putting the ball in play and hitting it hard in play at that. And we made some uncharacteristic mistakes, which compounded the problem,” said Baudry. 

“But when we had chances offensively, we really came through big.”

Sandlot (26-15) led 2-0 entering the bottom of the third inning, but then Otto Candies’ big bats arrived at the party – and in the clutch.

Sandlot starting pitcher Issac Hellbush retired the first two Otto batters, but it would be while before a third out was recorded. Cody Farrell drew a walk, then Mike Ford singled, allowing Farrell to advance to third. Connor Lorio walked to load the bases, setting up a two-run single by Tyler Lamers to tie the game.

Brooks Vial, Otto Candies’ starting pitcher, helped his own cause by lacing a two-run single of his own to make it a 4-2 lead for the Hahnville-based squad. 

Otto Candies (23-14) tacked on another run in the fourth inning. Ty Cologne singled to center to lead off the frame, then Travis Faucheaux bunted him to second. Tyler Simmons deposited his own single to center to score Cologne.

Sandlot answered with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, despite a base running mistake that led to a double play on a flyball out to center. Kyle Lacy singled with two outs and Hellbush walked, setting up back-to-back RBI singles by Daniel Costello and Drew Umbro that cut the Otto lead to 5-4. The inning might have continued but for a strong diving stop by Simmons on a hot shot hit to second by Zach Loomis.

Otto Candies kept scoring. Lamers walked to lead off the bottom of the fifth, then Vial and Dylan Keller hit back to back singles; a run scored on Keller’s hit after a throwing error. Cologne and Faucheaux followed up with back-to-back sacrifice fly RBIs to make it 8-4. 

“The thing about this game was that they really didn’t get a big inning. We had two of them. And in a game like this, it’s usually the team that can put together a big inning that wins,” said Baudry. 

Sandlot added two runs in the sixth after an RBI single by Lacy and an error. Then, in the eighth, a double by Quinn Walbergh  chased Vial from the game, and David Parret singled home a run off of Simmons, who came on in relief. 

But from there, Simmons took command. He walked Lacy, but stuck out Hellbush and got Daniel Costello to ground out to end the inning. In the ninth, he slammed the door by retiring the side in order, earning the save. 

Vial notched the win after going 7.1 innings. 

Vial and Ford combined for six hits in the game.

For much of the summer, Otto Candies relied on defense and pitching while waiting for an offense that struggled at times to generate runs. 

But the move back to aluminum bats – up until the Mid-South regional, wooden bats were used all summer – was beneficial, Ford said.

“We hit the ball well with the metal bats all prep season, so we knew we could today,” said Ford. “It helped, and we came through with some big key hits. We did what we were supposed to do when we had our opportunities, and it paid off for us with a win.”