Crowley Americans claim Bronco Section I title

EUNICE – The Crowley Americans dominated their first two games of the 2012 Bronco Section I tournament in Eunice and Monday’s championship game was no different.

The Americans bolted out to a 6-0 lead after two innings and went on to claim a 17-3 run-rule victory over their counterparts, the Crowley Nationals, and the sectional title.

“We lost some focus, we missed some signs and we took some called third strikes early on,” said Crowley Americans’ coach Chris Stevens following the victory. “But once we get going, we’re a pretty good team. We struck the ball better towards the end.”

The Americans were limited to just four hits in the first two innings before breaking loose for eight hits, including four for extra bases, in the following two frames.

In all, the Americans clubbed out 41 hits and 55 runs in their three, five-inning, run-rule victories.

“Once we see a pitcher, after that first round, most of the time we’re going to square it up pretty good,” said Stevens. “A lot of our kids have real good gap power from right center to left center. We don’t pull off the ball a whole lot with easy outs and that’s the big thing.”

The Americans’ pitching was just as impressive throughout the tournament.

In the championship game, John Hoffpauir started the game on the mound and threw three innings of no-hit, shutout baseball. He struck out eight. John William Lamm worked the final two frames and allowed three runs on four hits and one walk. He struck out two.

“Hitting is going to come and go, but if you can pitch and play defense, you’re going to be in every game,” said Stevens. “We have eight arms that are pretty good. They all throw strikes and they keep the defense in the game.”

The Americans’ pitching staff gave up a total of seven runs in 15 innings on the weekend.

“We have some quality arms, that’s for sure,” said Stevens. “We have some kids that have stepped up that haven’t pitched much this year and they have been dominating when they’ve been up there….not overpowering-type domination, but just hitting the strike zone and throwing two pitches for a strike. Anytime you can do that when you’re 12 years old, you’re going to have some success.”

Against the Nationals, the Americans staked a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a run-scoring double by Alex Gardiner.

The Americans added to the lead in the second inning when they scored four more runs on two hits and two walks. Hoffpauir had an RBI single in the frame while the other three runs scored on wild pitches.

The Americans put the game away in the final two innings when they scored 11 runs on eight hits, including two-run doubles from Hoffpauir and Thomas Stevens.

The Nationals finally got on the board in the fifth and final inning.

Steven Callahan broke up the no-hit bid when he led off the frame with an infield single. Then, with two outs, the National avoided the shutout when Alex Foreman came through with an RBI single to left field. Foreman crossed the plate on a bases- loaded walk to Anders Fontenot and Luke Duhon, who singled, scored the final run on a wild pitch.

Both the Americans and the Nationals advanced to the Bronco Super Regional that will be played in Lafayette at Brown Park beginning on Thursday.

The Americans will take on the Welsh Sectional runnerup Thursday at 6 p.m. in the opening round of the Bronco Super Regional Tournament in Lafayette . The Nationals will also play at 6 p.m. against the Welsh Sectional champion.

As of press time, Welsh and Jennings each had one loss and were playing for the title last night.

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