Eunice upends Millers in American Legion action

EUNICE – Zac Person apparently isn’t Eunice’s only quality pitcher.

Just ask the Crowley Millers.

John Ross Johnson, Eunice’s “other pitcher,” proved to formidable as well, scattering five hits over six innings as the Oilers defeated the Millers, 7-2, in District 7-East American Legion action Thursday.

“We knew we would have our hands full coming in,” said Millers’ coach Timmy Robichaux following the contest. “We just had trouble stringing hits together. He (Johnson) was attacking us inside. We need to learn to make adjustments early and get off the plate a little more.”

Johnson struck out five and coaxed the Millers into three double plays before giving way to Person, who was named a member of the Class AAA All-State team recently after leading Eunice High to the Class AAA semifinals.

“We hurt ourselves a bit with some base running mistakes,” said Robichaux. “We got doubled off on some line drives, runners not freezing on line drives. We didn’t execute on the bunt to move runners in scoring position.”

The base-running mistakes, coupled with a lack of timely hitting proved costly.

The Millers had a runner at second base with one out in the first inning but failed to capitalize. They got the leadoff man on in the second frame but a grounder back to the mound resulted in the first double play of the game to thwart any scoring opportunity.

Once again, the Millers got the leadoff runner on in the third inning, but a bunt back to the mound got Paiton McBride, who was hit by a pitch, cut down at second base. Luke Bourgeois then hit a hard line to first base that was snagged by Nick Richard who then stepped on the bag to double up Justin Marcantel.

The Millers mounted another scoring opportunity in the fourth inning when Connor Goss doubled to left field with one out. But a grounder back to the mound and a flyout to deep center field ended the inning.

“We had some opportunities, but we just couldn’t get the big two-out hit,” said Robichaux.

Eunice, on the other hand, took advantage of its scoring opportunities.

The Oilers scored first with three runs in the second inning, all coming with two outs.

Millers’ starting pitcher Nick Gossen got Matthew Bari to fly out and Zac Person to ground out to start the inning. But Dillon Brown singled to center and Johnson followed with a swinging bunt for a single before Drake Fruge drove in Brown with a single to the right center field gap.

Hayden Pitre plated another run on a single and Fruge scored on an errant throw that would have resulted in the third out.

The Oilers added another run in the fifth frame when Trent Vidrine drew a walk and scored on another throwing error to push Eunice’s lead to 4-0.

The Millers finally got on the board in the top of the sixth inning when Goss walked and scored on Dakota Broussard’s single to right field. Blaine Richard, who reached base on a fielder’s choice, then scored on Eunice’s only error of the contest to cut the lead to 4-2.

Eunice answered back in the bottom of the inning, plating three runs on three hits. Vidrine drove in two runs with a double and Pitre doubled to plate one.

Person took the mound in relief of Johnson in the seventh inning and struck out three straight to end the contest.

“Overall, they got some timely hits on us early and that was the difference,” said Robichaux. “We kind of got back into the game then we hurt ourselves a little bit defensively along the way.”

In all, the Millers committed four errors, two in the outfield.

“I think we pitched well enough to be in the game,” said Robichaux. “It wasn’t our best, but we pitched well enough to be in it. We just didn’t make the plays that we needed to make behind our pitchers.

“Everybody just needs to get used to playing with each other. We just need to get everybody on the same page, play a little better defensively and get a little more aggressive at the plate and we’ll definitely be in the thick of things.”

Gossen suffered the loss, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out two. Mitch Corzine worked the final 2 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks. He struck out three.

Fruge paced the Oilers’ offensive attack with a 3-for-3 performance that included a double and an RBI. Pitre followed with two hits, including a double and two RBI while Vidrine had a double and two RBI. Fruge doubled in a run and Bari, Person, Brown and Johnson each had one hit.

Dakota Broussard led the Millers with two hits and an RBI. Goss doubled while Gossen and Brian Broussard had one hit each.

Crowley traveled to Opelousas Saturday afternoon to take on the Opelousas General Seminoles but results of that contest were not available at press time.

The Millers have a bye Tuesday but will return to action Thursday when they return to Opelousas to take on the St. Landry Bank Indians at Westminster. First pitch for that contest is slated for 7 p.m.

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