Nationals top Rayne in Bronco Section tourney

RAYNE – A first-round victory over Kinder in the Pony Section I Tournament Wednesday put the Crowley Nationals in prime position to make a run at qualifying for the Regional Tournament next weekend in Crowley .

And another victory Thursday put them in an even better position.

John Marceaux, a first-year Pony Leaguer, helped put the team over the edge Thursday, scattering five hits and striking out nine in the Nationals’ 9-1 victory over tournament host Rayne.

The victory sent the locals to the winner’s bracket finals against Jennings yesterday. It also guaranteed them no less that a third-place showing in the tournament, which makes them a lock for next week’s Regional.

“John stepped up big for us tonight,” said Crowley Nationals’ coach Chris Stutes following the contest. “He stepped up and threw all seven innings and he didn’t lose his poise. He threw strikes the whole night and he was able to keep them off balance.”

Marceaux accounted for 12 of Rayne’s 21 outs. He struck out nine, coaxed two grounders back to the mound and also ended a potential scoring threat in the sixth inning with a pickoff at second base.

Crowley’s offense provided more than enough support for its pitcher in the first inning alone. The Nationals struck for five runs in the opening frame on four hits, including a two-run single by Logan Dischler, an RBI single from Ben Broussard and a run-scoring double from third baseman Jacob Vicknair.

In all, the Nationals pounded out 10 hits on the night. Four of those hits and three runs were produced by the bottom half of their lineup.

“The bottom of the lineup has been coming through for us lately,” said Stutes. “We have slumped a little at the top (of the lineup) but those guys at the bottom have been making it happen.

“But the whole team is putting out. Their giving us 110 percent every night and you can’t ask for more than that.”

The top of Stute’s lineup got going in the second inning and loaded the bases courtesy of a walk, a fielder’s choice and a hit by Marceaux. However, Rayne was able to avoid any further damage when Luke Stutes hit a ground ball back to pitcher Dustin Dupuis, who in turn fired to the plate for the second out. Rayne catcher Jacob Hebert then threw a strike to first base to complete the double play and end the inning.

Rayne got on the board in the top of the third when Hebert led off with a single to right center field and he scored when Dupuis doubled to left. Marceaux eventually got out of the inning on a groundout to shortstop Blaine Sonnier.

The Nationals answered in the bottom of the inning courtesy of two Rayne miscues. Back-to-back errors allowed Sonnier and Stutes to reach base. Both runners eventually scored on errors as well, giving Crowley a 7-1 advantage.

Dupuis managed to get through the next two innings unscathed before the Nationals plated two more runs in the sixth.

Austin Duhon led off the inning with a single and he eventually scored on a passed ball. Marceaux, who walked, also crossed the plate on Rayne’s fifth error of the contest.

Rayne threatened to rally in the seventh inning when they loaded the bases with two outs. But a groundout to first base sealed the victory.

Dupuis suffered the loss for Rayne, giving up nine runs on 10 hits and six walks. He struck out six in six inning of work.

Vicknair, Broussard and Duhon each touched Dupuis for two hits on the night. Vicknair had two doubles and one RBI while Broussard drove in one run.

Dischler had one hit and two RBI while Marceaux, Stutes and Damon Guidry each had one hit.

Rayne was paced by Dupuis with two hits, including a double and an RBI. Hebert, Christian Morgan and Gannon Quebodeaux each had one hit in the loss.

“To come out and win these first two games is big,” said Stutes. “We took this team on to just get these kids some more development. We have been the underdog since we started, but they come out here and they give it their all and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Crowley took on Jennings Saturday in the winner’s bracket finals. A victory would have them playing in the championship game today at 2 p.m. with the If Necessary game to follow.

A loss Saturday would have forced them to play a second game, the loser’s bracket finals, in order to advance to the title game.

Results from those contests will be updated in Tuesday’s edition of the Crowley Post-Signal.

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