Millers rally past Eunice in AL opener

By Chris Quebedeaux

SPORTS EDITOR

CROWLEY – It took five innings for the Crowley Millers to finally figure out Eunice left-hander Zack Person, but when they did..........

The Millers, who were baffled by Person over the first five innings, rallied for four runs on five hits in the sixth inning to rally past the Oilers, 6-3, in the American Legion season opener for both teams.

“It was good to see our guys keep fighting,” said Millers’ coach Timmy Robichaux following the victory. “Their pitcher was pretty good and he had us for a while but we kind of stuck with it and hung in there until we had some opportunities. We had a good inning and some big hits in that one inning.”

Tyler Dupuis and Mitch Corzine had perhaps the two biggest hits of the sixth inning.

Trailing 3-2 heading into the frame, Dupuis led off with a triple over the head of left fielder Conner Cortina. Corzine followed with a triple to the left center field alley to plate Dupuis and tie the game at 3-3.

“The first two hits in the sixth inning were huge because they were triples,” said Robichaux. “We didn’t have to try to give up outs or bunt to try and move the runners so that was big.”

With two outs and runners at the corners, Beau Desselle worked Person to a full count. After fouling off a pitch, the left-handed hitting Desselle drilled a fastball right back up the middle for an RBI single.

“Beau had some tough at-bats earlier, but he came through with a big hit, in the sixth” said Robichaux. “You know, it’s a lefty on lefty matchup and that’s always tough. He did a good job of hitting in that (full) count.”

Corde McCall gave the Millers a little breathing room two batters later when he hit a chopper in between first and second base to plate Crowley’s final two runs of the game.

“Corde did a good job of putting the ball in play and that’s the main thing we’ve been trying to preach to them,” said Robichaux. “We don’t have to have hits all the time. We have to have good at-bats and make tough and productive outs. Corde came through right there and got runs across.”

Putting the ball in play was tough for the Millers early on due to an outstanding pitching performance from Person.

The hard-throwing lefty struck out five over the first two innings and he didn’t give up a hit until midway through the third.

But the first hit of the game was key for the Millers.

With Eunice leading 2-0 after 2 1/2 innings, Crowley had runners at second and third with two outs courtesy of an error and a walk. Matt Savoie then drove a 2-1 offering from Person to left field to plate two runs and tie the game.

Eunice’s first two runs also crossed the plate with two outs.

Following a leadoff walk to Alex Lee in the third inning, Jacob Fontenot grounded out to first and Tyler Fontenot struck out. Stuart Turner then singled to left to drive in a run before scoring himself on another single to left by Alex Comeaux.

Crowley starting pitcher Ryan Leonards worked the first three innings, allowing two runs on four hits and one walk. He struck out two.

Justin Desselle entered in relief of Leonards in the fourth and sat the Oilers down in order.

Eunice struck for one run in the fifth when Jacob Fontenot walked and scored on a double by Tyler Fontenot.

Desselle went three innings, allowing one run on one hit and three walks. He struck out five in earning the victory.

Jake Trahan pitched the final inning to earn the save. He struck out Lee to start the frame before getting a fly out and a ground out to end the contest.

“I thought all three of our guys pitched well tonight,” said Robichaux. “Both Ryan and Justin pitched out of some situations along the way with base runners on.

“Ryan did a good job of getting us off to a good start and Justin did a very good job in the middle innings where usually the momentum will change on you in the fourth of a seven-inning game. And Jake came in and did a good job of throwing strikes and making them put the ball in play.”

Person suffered the loss despite striking out 12 batters in six innings. He gave up seven hits and eight walks.

Savoie paced the Millers 7-hit attack with a 2-for-3 performance that included two RBI. McCall followed with one hit and two RBI while Desselle and Corzine each had one hit and one RBI. Dupuis and Coy Guidry rounded out the Millers’ offense with one hit each.

Turner led Eunice with two hits and an RBI and Comeaux drove in one run on a single. Fontenot doubled in a run and Trent Vidrine had a single.

“This was a good win and it was a good game for both teams,” said Robichaux. “They (Eunice) were kind of thrown in the same mix as we were in getting their roster together in a short time. But it definitely is a good win and a good start to the district season.”

The Millers will be in action again Tuesday when they travel to Rayne to take on the Wolves in a 7 p.m. contest.

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