Bronco Americans fall short in Regional title game

LAFAYETTE – The Bronco Americans had undefeated Erath on the ropes Monday in their Super Regional finals showdown at Neyland Park .

But in the end, it was the Americans who fell.

Failure to deliver a knockout blow when they had the opportunity proved costly as Erath rallied for seven unanswered runs in the final three frames to punch out a 10-8 victory and end the Americans’ season.

The Americans squandered a golden opportunity to put the game away in the fourth inning when they led 8-3 and had the bases loaded with only one out. A pickoff and a groundout ended the inning before they were able to add to that lead.

“They are a really good team,” said Americans’ coach Jason Lamm of the Erath team, one which earned a berth in the Bronco Zone Tournament that begins next weekend in Tampa , Fla.

“We really just had one bad inning. They were able to get a few timely hits that found the holes.”

After falling behind 4-0 in the first inning, Erath chipped away at the lead and cut what was once a five-run deficit, to three in the fifth (8-5).

Then came the bad inning.

Erath exploded for five runs on four hits and two walks in the sixth inning to take a 10-8 lead.

“You know, they didn’t hit the ball real hard, but it found the holes,” said Lamm. “We were running out of pitching and they just had the big timely hits. That’s baseball.”

The Americans were thin on pitching due to a second-round loss to Erath on Saturday that threw them into the loser’s bracket.

They fought their way back to the finals by defeating Iota and CAYSI Sunday and St. Landry Monday, prior to the title game.

“When you get in the loser’s bracket and have to work your way back through it, it takes a toll on your pitching,” said Lamm.

After throwing ace Will Doughty for three innings and Collin Kirsch for two in an 11-1 victory over St. Landry in the semifinals, Crowley turned to Devin Mouton to start the title game.

Mouton was solid for the first two innings, limiting Erath to one hit and no runs.

The Americans’ offense gave Mouton some breathing room in the first inning, scoring four runs on three hits and two walks.

David Frank and David Schmid both reached base via walks before scoring on Doughty’s single down the right field line. John Hoffpauir plated Doughty on a groundout and Thomas Stevens, who singled, scored on a double by Kirsch.

Erath finally got on the board in the third inning when Luke Young walked and scored on a fielder’s choice by Luis Flores. Bren Faulk, who reached base on a bunt single, scored on a wild pitch and Granger crossed the plate on a groundout by Ben LeBlanc to cut the lead to 4-3.

Crowley answered with two runs in the bottom of the third when Doughty singled and scored on a wild pitch. Kirsch walked three batters later and scored on an infield single by Garrett Cormier to push the Americans’ lead to 6-3.

Frank took over on the mound in the fourth inning and gave up two hits, but he got out of the inning unscathed thanks to Kirsch, who gunned down a runner trying to stretch a single into a double from right field.

Crowley added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth when Mouton walked and scored on a groundout by Doughty. Schmid then reached base on an error and scored on a wild pitch to give the Americans an 8-3 advantage.

Erath didn’t fold through.

The visitors scored two runs on two hits and two walks in the fifth inning before taking the lead for good in the sixth.

Erath’s Mason Granger took the mound in the bottom of the fifth and pitched three scoreless innings to earn the victory.

He gave up one hit and struck out four.

Crowley did manage six hits on the night. Doughty led the way with two hits and three RBI while Stevens also had two singles. Kirsch added a double and a RBI and Cormier drove in a run with a single.

Erath banged out 10 hits in the victory.

Faulk led the charge with a 3-for-5 performance while Granger and Andre Touchet had one hit and two RBI each. Luis Flores and LeBlanc each had a single and a RBI. Jacob Richard, Corant Harrington and Cordell Campbell each added a single.

“I’m really proud of this group,” said Lamm. “Our guys showed a lot of heart to come back through the loser’s bracket like they did. We scored a lot of runs, the defense played great and all our pitchers did a good job. We just came up a little short.

“But I couldn’t be prouder of them. We are pretty young and we’ll be back next year.”

In the first game of the night, Crowley pounded out 12 hits in an 11-1 victory over St. Landry in an elimination contest.

Frank paced the locals with three hits while Schmid, Stevens and John William Lamm each had two hits. Mouton, Doughty and Hoffpauir each had one hit.

Doughty was also credited with the victory on the mound after giving up no runs on two hits through three innings. He struck out six.

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