Millers bow out of state tournament
By Chris Quebedeaux
CROWLEY – The Crowley Millers had faced adversity numerous times during the 2009 American Legion season and, seemingly, they always battled through it.
But back-to-back emotionally-charged games took their toll on the Millers in the American Legion State Tournament at Miller Stadium and it showed in their elimination game against Gauthier-Amedee Monday afternoon.
The Millers, who dropped a heartbreaking 7-6, 11-inning decision to Peake BMW just 12 hours earlier, managed only six hits and produced just three runs in a stunning 16-3 loss to the Baton Rouge-based team.
The defeat was a gut-wrenching ending to a season that had provided so many memorable moments and web-gem highlights. It left the Millers with a 28-3 record and thoughts of what might have been.
Gauthier, meanwhile, advanced to take on Retif Oil in the semifinals yesterday. The winner of that contest was to play Peake in the championship game late last night.
“This was a disappointing way to end the season,” said Crowley coach Timmy Robichaux, whose squad rallied for six runs in the top of the ninth inning Saturday to defeat Retif Oil before Sunday’s extra-inning loss.
“We just really didn’t show up to play today at all. Emotionally, we were just drained.”
As was the case in Sunday’s loss, pitching and defense played a huge role in Monday’s outcome.
The Millers committed six errors in the contest and walked 11 batters. In each of G&A’s three big innings (four runs in the second, six in the fourth and five in the seventh), the Millers walked at least three batters and committed one error.
“The same things that really have helped us win all season long were kind of our Achilles’ heel here - and that’s walks and errors,” said Robichaux. “After you get down to four teams out of an 8-team field, anybody is going to make you hurt if you walk people and make errors. Typically, you even make weak teams better when you do that much less the caliber teams that we were playing against.”
The Millers gave up four runs in the top of the second inning courtesy of four walks, one error and two hits.
However, they responded in the bottom of the frame, scoring three runs on three hits and two walks to cut the lead to 4-3.
Gauthier added another run in the third before putting the game out of reach with six runs in the fourth.
“I think if we could have kept the game within one or two runs, we would have been alright,” said Robichaux. “After they pulled away from us a little bit, it was hard for us to mount any type of comeback.
“I just think we hit a wall right there. Losing that game last night (Sunday) was crushing. The win would have put us in such a good position to be able to win the tournament. I just don’t think we were able to overcome that.”
Leonards, who suffered the loss, his first of the summer, led the Millers at the plate, collecting two of their six hits while driving in one run. Austin Robichaux singled and drove in a run; Matt Savoie logged a double and Mitch Corzine and Jake Trahan each had one hit.
Gautier’s 13-hit attack was paced by Bradly Day with three hits, all doubles, and five RBI. Britt Gautreaux also had three hits, including a double, a triple and three RBI while Jesse Buratt was 3-for-4 with three RBI.
Lee Elisar had two hits and three RBI and Marcus Bailey singled twice.
“Again, this was a disappointing finish, but a great season,” said Robichaux. “I don’t think the loss can mar what these kids have accomplished. We finished 28-3 and their three losses have come to possibly the winner of the state tournament and the team we played in Ruston.
“We really only lost to very good teams. So again, I don’t think we can overlook what our season did for American Legion baseball in getting a little bit of momentum back in the American Legion program.
“Hopefully, with us being able to advance like we did, we’ll be able to keep all of the better players in the Legion system.”