Wombats open state tournament with two victories

Kyle Riviere
Dutchtown’s Brayden Caskey had the two winning RBIs in the Wombats’ 6-4 state tournament win over Retif Oil. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

The Gauthier & Amedee Wombats kept on winning last weekend as they opened the American Legion state tournament in New Orleans with two big victories to keep themselves in the winners bracket.

The Wombats opened the tournament with a 4-1 win over Refuel on Friday. On Sunday, they came from behind to beat Jesuit-based Retif Oil, 6-4.

Gauthier & Amedee came into the tournament brimming with momentum after winning the 16-team Independence Day Classic in Columbia, Tenn., the previous weekend. The event featured five American Legion state champions.

The Wombats dropped the first game of the tournament, and then won the next five to capture the championship.

They were hoping the experience could give them a boost in the state competition, an event they have not been able to conquer recently. Gauthier & Amedee has lost in the semifinals for the past three seasons.

The Wombats haven’t won a state title since 2013. That’s the year they reached the American Legion World Series.

They’re off to a good start in 2018.

In their first game of the state tournament, Gauthier & Amedee met Refuel at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium in New Orleans.

The game was dominated early on by the pitching. This kept it scoreless until the top of the fifth inning. It was then that the Wombats scored all of their runs.

East Ascension’s Preston Thrash got things started with a leadoff walk, and he was able to advance to second with a sacrifice bunt by Ascension Catholic’s William Dunn.

Soon afterward, the bases were loaded with back-to-back walks of Dutchtown’s Brayden Caskey and Ascension Catholic’s Mason Zeringue.

St. Amant’s Zane Zeppuhar then grounded into a fielder’s choice. This allowed both Thrash and Caskey to score.

Zeppuhar scored on a single by Dutchtown’s Jack Merrifield.

This gave way to three straight walks of Dutchtown’s Layton Lee and Jordan Badame and St. Amant’s Reed Babin. Merrifield scored to give the Wombats a commanding 4-0 lead.

Refuel was able to scratch a run in the bottom of the seventh, but it was the only one they could muster.

The Wombat pitching duo of St. Amant’s Dwain Guice and Dutchtown’s Austin Bankert held Refuel to just three hits.

Guice highlighted the effort with three full innings pitched. Aside from one walk, he was perfect.

From the plate, Zeringue and Babin were the only two players to record multiple hits, while Zeppuhar had a game-high two RBIs.

Things came much tougher for the Wombats in Sunday’s game.

Although, they initially took a 2-0 first-inning lead. One run scored after a Retif error, and another came home following an RBI singly by East Ascension’s Carson Dabadie.

However, Retif answered in the top of the fourth with three runs. They tacked another on in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead.

Thankfully for the Wombats, they had another four-run fifth inning in them.

Zeppuhar led off with a walk, and Dabadie reached base following a Retif error. Zeppuhar scored on a Badame single.

After a Thrash walk, Dunn sent Badame home with a base hit.

It all set up Caskey. With two outs and the game tied, he laced a single into center that allowed both Thrash and Dunn to score.

With the 6-4 advantage, Lee was able to close out the game from the mound for the Wombats.

Lee earned the victory as he pitched the final three innings, surrendering four hits and just one run. He struck out five.

Caskey and Dunn each had two hits for Gauthier & Amedee. Caskey had the two winning RBIs.

The victory was the seventh straight for the Wombats, and it improved their overall record to a tremendous 29-2.

The state tournament will conclude on Wednesday, July 11.