Reggie, Leonards lift Millers to regional title
By Chris Quebedeaux
LAKE CHARLES – Entering Tuesday’s American Legion Southwest Sub-Regional championship game, Frem Reggie had done just about everything he could on a baseball field, but hitting a home run wasn’t one of them.
Luckily for Reggie and the Millers, there’s a first time for everything.
With the Millers trailing the Delhomme Drillers, 4-3, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Reggie stepped to the plate and crushed the first pitch he saw from Manning Duhon over the left field wall for a two-run homer.
That blast proved to be the game winner when starting pitcher Ryan Leonards sat the Drillers down in order in the top of the ninth inning to give the Millers a 5-4 victory and their first-ever Sub-Regional title.
The Millers and Drillers now advance to the state tournament, which will be held in Crowley beginning July 24.
“I just wanted to see a good pitch and hit it hard,” said Reggie of his final time at bat. “The whole tournament I’ve been sitting on that first-pitch fastball trying to drive it. He (Duhon) left it up in the zone and I got a good turn on it.”
The home run was Reggie’s lone hit of the game after grounding out to third twice and flying out to left once.
“I was pulling off the ball a little bit in my first few at bats and coach told me to stay on it a little bit longer and make sure I’m getting all the way through it,” said Reggie. “That made all the difference.”
The late heroics helped salvage a slow start for the Millers, who never led until Reggie’s home run.
“We didn’t let it (slow start) get to us,” said Millers’ coach Timmy Robichaux. “We hit a lot of balls hard, but just right at people for most of the game. But we kept going out, getting three outs, coming back in and going to work again until eventually we got one to go over the wall.”
Leonards was also stellar, picking up the complete-game victory despite throwing over 50 pitches three days earlier in relief - also against Delhomme.
Leonards finished Tuesday’s contest with 103 pitches. He scattered 10 hits and walked just one while striking out 12 in nine innings.
“You know, 103 pitches in nine innings against the quality hitters they had, especially in the upper part of their lineup, is impressive,” said Robichaux. “And for him to still be counted on to steal when he gets on base, to run and to hit and do all the other things......
“We’re not asking him just to pitch and DH for him. He’s got to do everything, so he really typified our team’s performance tonight.”
The Drillers made it tough on Leonards from the start when Ryan Schexnayder doubled to start the game. He eventually scored on a double by Matt deGraau before a strikeout by Taylor Robideaux ended the inning.
The Millers answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame when Leonards singled to center, stole second and third and scored on a wild pitch.
A double by Jacob Ballew and an error gave Delhomme a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning.
But the Millers tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth when Leonards walked before eventually scoring on a sacrifice bunt by Blaine Richard.
Again, the Drillers responded.
Jhaice Menard reached base to lead off the seventh inning courtesy of a passed ball on a strikeout and Schexnayder followed with a single to center. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Ridge Ridgedell and Ben Davis drove in a run with a single to center.
The Drillers took a 4-2 advantage when deGrauu singled in a run before Robideaux grounded out to end the inning.
Beau Desselle got the Millers on track in the eighth inning with a leadoff double. He scored on a one-out single by Blaine Richard that set the table for Reggie’s heroics.
Jake Trahan led the Millers’ nine-hit attack, going 3-for-3 with three singles while Richard was 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Reggie homered and drove in two runs, Desselle doubled and Leonards and Austin Robichaux each singled.
Delhomme was paced by deGrauu with three hits, including a double and two RBI and Schexnayder with two hits.
Matt Savoie, despite being hitless in the championship game, was named the tournament MVP. Savoie hit .632 in the Miller’s five games, going 12-for-19 with four home runs, two doubles and 15 runs driven in.
“This was a fun game to be in because we played against a quality team and had a little bit of everything,” said Robichaux. “We had to overcome a few things so this was a really good win. And I still say that the reason for our success is because we have a great group of kids.”
The Millers had a much deserved day off Wednesday, but they were scheduled to practice the remainder of the week as well as next week for the upcoming state tournament that begins July 24 at Miller Stadium.
Both the Millers and the Drillers will play in the state tournament along with the top two teams out of the Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans sub-regional tournaments.
In the Baton Rouge regional, Plaquemine has locked up a state tournament bid by reaching the finals last night. Gauthier & Amedee of Gonzales took on Belle Chasse for the right to advance.
There are also three teams remaining in the New Orleans regional being played at Athletic Park in Ponchatoula. Brother Martin-based Peake BMW will advance out of the tournament as well as the winner of last night’s contest between Rummel-based Nationwide Restoration and Jesuit-based Retif Oil.
The winner of the state tournament will advance to the Mid-States Regional that will be held in Enid, Oklahoma at David Allen Memorial Ballpark beginning on Thursday, August 6.