Crowley Americans top Brown Park to claim Bronco Super Regional title

LAFAYETTE – Even when the Crowley Americans aren’t at their best, they are still better than most teams.

But when they are on top of their game, even on a rain soaked filed, they are downright unbeatable.

Brown Park ’s All-Stars found that out the hard way Tuesday in the championship game of the 2012 Super Regional Tournament.

Pitcher Collin Kirsch dominated Brown Park’s normally potent offensive attack and the Americans clubbed out seven hits in five innings to claim a 10-0 run-rule victory over the tournament hosts.

The victory sends the Americans to the South Zone Tournament in Tampa, Fla. beginning on July 19.

“All day, I was really concerned about the elements because that (weather) can even out a game,” said Americans’ coach Chris Stevens of the steady rain that fell across Acadiana for the better part of the day Tuesday. “But when we got here and everything was somewhat dry, I felt a lot better.

“With a wet ball, it slips and you can throw it away. We came in thinking we were going to bunt, take a lot of pitches and try to put as many balls in play to make them throw it around. But with the dry ground, we basically let them play our game and we swung away.”

That offensive strategy paid dividends early on for the Americans.

Despite going down in order in the first inning, the locals got things going in the second frame when they plated five runs on four hits and three walks.

Will Doughty led off the inning with a single to left field and he advanced to third on a bunt single by Thomas Frank. Devin Mouton followed with an RBI single to center and, with one out, Alex Gardiner delivered a one-run double to right. Garrett Cormier also plated a run with a bases-loaded walk and Kaizer Lamm, who walked, scored on a grounder to second by John Hoffpauir.

“I was really concerned about them (Brown Park) striking first and getting a little confidence, but when we struck for that big inning in the second, you could see the mood change,” said Stevens. “The fans weren’t in it and the kids, you could kind of tell, I think they knew it was our time.”

As the Americans heated up at the plate, Brown Park never had the opportunity to get going.

Kirsch baffled the hosts by setting the side down in order in each of the first four innings.

“I really thought they (Brown Park) would come out and play hard, which they did, but Collin shut down the first 12 batters he faced,” said Stevens. “It’s hard to win when you can’t get a kid on base.”

The Americans added to their lead in the third frame. John William Lamm reached base when he was hit by a pitch and Gardiner recorded his second hit of the night, a single to right field. Kaizer Lamm then drove in a run on a groundout to shortstop and Gardiner scored on an error, one of five committed by Brown Park .

The Americans plated two more runs in the fourth on an RBI single from Stevens and a sacrifice fly by Mouton to stake a 9-0 lead.

Then in the fifth, following an error and two intentional walks, Sam Frank drove home the winning run with a grounder to second base that was mishandled.

For the Americans, it was the bottom of the lineup that delivered in the clutch. Gardiner, hitting out of the eight hole, was 3-for-3 with a double and one RBI while Stevens (five hole) had two hits and one RBI. Mouton (six hole) had one hit and two RBI and Will Doughty had one hit.

“All of our guys can hit,” said Stevens. “The top (of the lineup) contributed with some walks and (they) reached base on a couple of errors. We put the ball in play and if they make a couple errors, usually we’re going to make them pay for it.

“One through nine, I don’t think we struck out too much and they did a good job. And we had a couple of nice hits. Alex (Gardiner) came through with a big ground-rule double and that really helped us out. He (Gardiner) is not most people’s eight-hole and he had a big night.”

On the night, Kirsch limited Brown Park to just two base runners on a single and a walk, both in the fifth and final frame. He struck out five in earning the victory.

“Collin did an awesome job and he dominated from the first pitch to the last,” said Stevens. “He ran into a little trouble in the fifth and gave up one hit and one walk but hey, no big deal.”

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