Crowley Nationals rally past Church Point
EUNICE – After one inning of play Monday in the Bronco Section I semifinals, it appeared as if the Crowley Nationals were well on their way to a blowout victory.
Church Point had other ideas however and the blowout became a nailbiter.
The Nationals squandered an early 8-0 lead and found themselves with their backs against the wall following a late rally that gave Church Point a 14-12 lead heading into the top of the seventh inning.
Instead of packing it in, the Nationals responded with a rally of their own and scored 11 runs in the seventh en route to a wild 23-17 victory.
“Words can’t really describe what really just happened,” said Nationals’ coach Peter Kirsch following the victory. “Our kids accepted the challenge and they never gave up on themselves.
“In that situation, giving up the lead and chasing two runs going into your last at bat, sometimes as a player you put more pressure upon yourselves than you need to. But these kids didn’t let it bother them. They were confident in each other, in their base running and their bats and it showed.”
The Nationals scored seven runs in the top of the first inning and took an 8-0 lead in the second before Church Point stormed back with six runs in the bottom of the frame.
“I can’t take anything away from Church Point,” said Kirsch. “To be down eight in the semifinals like that, they just never gave up.
“I think our kids put up seven runs in the first inning and just thought they were going to cruise.”
Church Point eventually tied the game (11-11) in the fifth inning before scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 14-12 advantage.
Crowley responded in the top of the seventh when they sent 15 batters to the plate and scored 11 runs.
Church Point pitchers issued six walks to aide in the Nationals’ rally, but the locals also came through with five clutch hits in the frame, including a two-run double by Steven Callahan and RBI singles by Christian Stafford, Camron Ledet, J.T. Kirsch and Luke Duhon.
Desmond Harmon, pitching in relief of Ledet, gave up three runs in the bottom of the frame before striking out the final batter he faced to end the game.
Duhon had three hits for the Nationals while Stafford , Kirsch and Anders Fontenot each had two. Ledet, Callahan, Gavin Corzine, Alex Foreman and Luke Foreman each had one hit.
“I can’t really express how proud I am of our guys,” said Kirsch. “And they deserve all of the credit. I couldn’t be prouder of them as individuals, but as a team too. As coaches, this is something we kind of wrapped our arms around and we’ve watched these kids grow. But to watch them come together and gel in such a short amount of time has just been phenomenal and fun.”