Wombats' season ends one game short of championship

Kyle Riviere
Gauthier & Amedee's 2018 World Series semifinalist squad. Photo courtesy of Twitter.

Sometimes, the opposing pitcher is just too good.

That was the case on Monday night in Shelby, N.C., as Gauthier & Amedee faced Las Vegas Post 40 in the semifinals of the American Legion World Series.

Until that point, the Wombats had played like the best team in the tournament, going a perfect 3-0 in pool play. But on this night, Las Vegas pitcher Jimmy Gamboa was just better.

Gamboa pitched a complete-game gem in which he held Gauthier & Amedee to just one hit. That hit finally came from East Ascension's Preston Thrash in the seventh inning of what ended up being a 6-1 victory for Las Vegas.

The win allowed them to reach the World Series championship game for a second straight year.

Unfortunately for the Wombats, the loss ended what was an amazing season--one of the most successful seasons the organization has ever had.

The team mirrored the 2013 squad, which was the last Wombat team to reach the World Series. Both squads won the Louisiana state title and Mid-South Region title. Both went on to reach the semifinals of the World Series.

This Gauthier & Amedee team played some tremendous baseball in Shelby. They won their first three games by one run.

In game one against Braintree Mass (Massachusetts), Dutchtown's Jack Merrifield provided a sensational performance in their 1-0 victory.

Merrifield pitched six and two-thirds innings of shutout baseball, allowing just four hits. He also provided the Wombats with the winning RBI.

In game two, Gauthier & Amedee squeezed by Delaware Post 1, 5-4.

The game was won on a bunt single by Thrash in the bottom of the seventh.

Delaware went on to reach the title game.

In their final pool play game, the Wombats defeated Dubuque, Iowa. 3-2.

Pitchers Harrison Hutson (Dutchtown), Layton Lee (Dutchtown) and Chad Kennedy (East Ascension) combined to give up just three hits and two runs.

But in the semifinal game against Las Vegas, they just could not muster any answers for the stellar performance of Gamboa.

The Wombats were completely shut out until the bottom of the seventh inning.

They loaded the bases after St. Amant's Reed Babin reached on a fielder's choice and both East Ascension's Blaise Foote and Grant Griffin walked.

Thrash then came up with Gauthier & Amedee's first hit of the game. The single scored Foote.

However, when Ascension Catholic's William Dunn grounded out, the season came to a close for the Wombats as they fell, 6-1.

Gauthier & Amedee finished the summer with a tremendous 44-7 overall record.

Throughout the year, they saw some great individual performances.

Ascension Catholic's Mason Zeringue was the team's leading hitter as he batted a gaudy .488 with 26 RBIs--which was fourth on the team. Zeringue also scored 33 runs.

St. Amant's Zane Zeppuhar hit .406 with 41 RBIs (second on the team) and two home runs. He scored 46 runs, which was third-best for the Wombats.

Merrifield was the RBI leader with 50 and the home run leader with four. He also hit .388 with 43 runs.

Other players that hit at least .348 included: Dutchtown's Reid Bouchereau (.348), Babin (.349), Thrash (.358) and Dutchtown's Brayden Caskey (.360).

Caskey led the team in runs with 49.

For a team, Gauthier & Amedee hit a remarkable .350.

Recent St. Amant graduate and Southeastern signee Dwain Guice led the Wombat pitchers as he went 8-1 with a minuscule 1.10 ERA. He also had a team-high 71 strikeouts.

Some of other great pitching efforts came from Kennedy (6-0), Zeppuhar (5-0), Lee (6-1) and Dutchtown's Austin Bankert (5-1).

Bankert and Kennedy both had ERAs under 1.00. Zeppuhar's number stood at 1.27.

Guice's 71 strikeouts was by far the most of the team. Zeppuhar was next in line with 48, followed by Hutson with 35 and Kennedy with 33.

In fielding, Caskey, Foote, East Ascension's Carson Dabadie, Kennedy, Guice, Griffin, Merrifield and Bouchereau all had fielding percentages of at least .987.

Foote, Dabadie, Kennedy, Guice and Griffin were all perfect.