Swinging into Summer: SCC’s American Legion team facing down competitive schedule

Published 12:01 am Saturday, June 9, 2018

LAPLACE — Some schools view American Legion summer baseball as way to develop young players for the next prep season, while others drive toward championship glory.

St. Charles Catholic’s American Legion program does a little bit of both, according to head coach Wayne Stein.

Starters Robby Gilbert, Kaile Levantino, Nick Lorio, Joe Chiarella and Peyton Broussard return for SCC’s Townsend Homes American Legion team, named after its local business sponsor.

Townsend Homes boasts a tradition of excellence, including 34 consecutive state playoff appearances, 20 district championships, 15 state tournament appearances and a 2017 state runner-up showing.

Incoming senior Peyton Broussard, above, runs back to first base after gunning to steal second base.

In July 2017, SCC’s first state championship appearance ended with an 8-4 seventh inning loss to independent Pedal Valves at Mike Miley stadium in Metairie. Made of players and graduated seniors from Riverside Academy, St. Charles Catholic, Archbishop Rummel, De La Salle, Hahnville and Holy Cross, Pedal Valves is the American Legion two-time defending champion and a formidable opponent.

District II West teams also include Team PVS from East St. John High, ES&H from Destrehan High and the Noranda Bulldogs from Lutcher High.

“They’re all competitive, well-known baseball schools, so you have to play well to advance,” Stein said.

Stein thinks Townsend Homes is up to the challenge. However, it’s been a rocky start.

Two weeks into the season, the American Legion record is 2-3 and the overall summer record is 3-4-1 when combined with results from last week’s Marucci Classic travel tournament.

Rising junior Eli Ory tries his hand at catcher.

This week, Townsend Homes started out strong with a 11-2 win over East St. John PVS.

The team proceeded to suffer a 9-0 loss Wednesday against the Covenant Christian Southland Hogs and a 6-0 loss Thursday against Pedal Valves.

“We didn’t play well,” Stein said after Thursday’s game. “We only got one hit against Pedal Valves. We’ve got to get better.”

St. Charles Catholic kicked off a weekend tournament Friday evening. As of press time Friday morning, the team was preparing for a 5:30 p.m. battle against Dunham and Saturday games against St. Amant, Walker High and Catholic High – Baton Rouge on the Comets field.

Following the tournament, the focus is shifting back to Monday, Wednesday and Thursday American Legion games.

“Every school is a little different in what they are looking for,” Stein said.

“We’d like to win and get prepared for next year’s upcoming season. We’re replacing our catcher and first baseman, so that’s up for grabs. There’s an outfield spot and a designated hitter position up for grabs. We have 65 kids in the program competing hard for spots in our lineup.”

Adding depth to the pitching staff has been a major focus, according to Stein.

He said Jason Bosco has been an early standout among a roster of 12 returning seniors.

“Six games in, Jason Bosco has done a great job in the leadoff spot, trying to fill the shoes of Lloyd Nash,” Stein said. “Right now, he’s the freshest face that has stood out.”

Limited practice times are a challenge during the summer, Stein said, adding many players are kept busy conditioning for other sports.

Townsend Homes plays an away game against Warren Easton at 5 p.m. Monday. A home game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday against Destrehan High ES&H.