Destrehan takes American Legion baseball district crown

T.J. Thomas is major part of Destrehan-based ES&H’s run to the American Legion state championship tourney.

Will face Rummel to kick off state tournament

Destrehan/ES&H players let their head baseball coach Chris Mire know they wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than a district championship victory in the American Legion Second District West playoffs, but with so many first-time starters in the lineup the Wildcats were not likely considered the favorites to win it.

But their players and coaches didn’t care, sweeping three games against teams based from Lutcher and St. Charles Catholic high schools en route to the district crown and a berth in this week’s American Legion State Championship Tournament.

The DHS-based team will open play at state Friday morning at Delgado’s Kirsch-Rooney Stadium against Rummel-based Deanie’s Seafood. First pitch is scheduled for 9 a.m.

“I know our guys are proud of themselves and I’m very proud too,” said Mire, who saw his team win the championship game decisively over host Lutcher by a 10-0 score. “There have been a lot of years where even with a lot of returning guys, we felt really good about our chances and didn’t make it. This tournament’s been very tough for us, getting through St. Charles Catholic, Pedal Valves, Lutcher … you’re facing quality teams and winning the district hasn’t happened that often.”

ES&H moved to 11-8 this summer with the three tournament wins.

Mire said he thought the bracket set up well for his team after it won the first game of the tournament early last week, allowing for an off day and the chance to set up his rotation favorably to close out the tournament, each game started, respectively, by T.J. Thomas, Joshua MacCord and Avery Schexnaydre.

And that pitching certainly made their opportunities count. Destrehan recorded two shutouts at the tournament, just three total runs and no earned runs through three games, also including a 4-3 come from behind victory over St. Charles and a 2-0 win over Lutcher.

“Our pitching was definitely the story of the tournament,” said Mire. “Obviously our defense had to play well behind them as well and they did. When you can limit the opposing team’s offense like that, obviously you’ve got a great chance to win and you’ll always be in it.”

The championship game against Lutcher saw Schexnaydre pitch four no-hit, shutout innings to earn the win before Max Jacob came on in relief to close things out with his own two scoreless frames. Jacob allowed just one hit.

Offensively, Thomas drove in two runs and scored two as he went 2-for-3 at the plate. Jacob went 2-for-3 with a run and RBI and Dylan Weber went 1-for-3 with a run and RBI. Cade Tramuta was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Tramuta and Thomas doubled in the win, which saw DHS jump out to an 8-0 lead in the first three innings.

The pivotal game, though, came against St. Charles Catholic, who led 3-1 headed into the bottom of the seventh inning. Destrehan scored three runs there to earn the win, taking it officially on Jacob’s walk-off single that scored Weber.

The two teams had squared off once before on June 13, St. Charles holding off a Destrehan rally to preserve a 7-6 win. This time, the Wildcats finished their rally.

“I thought they really dominated us in the first game, and this one started to play out the same way … but this team, for whatever reason,  we’ve been able to put up runs late and make comebacks,” Mire said. “We’ve come up short a couple of times, but quite a few times we’ve come all the way back. Whatever this team does to fight back consistently, as a coach, you’ve gotta love it.”

MacCord went the complete game in against SCC, allowing two hits and no earned runs while striking out nine. Jacob went 2-for-4 with two RBIs while Thomas was 2-for-3 with a double, RBI and run scored.

Now, Destrehan turns its sights on winning a Legion state championship. The field won’t be an easy one, including, among others, a strong Jesuit team and Gauthier-Amadee, which consists of players from St. Amant, Dutchtown and East Ascension and is coached by longtime Destrehan baseball coach Marty Luquet, who Mire played for and served as an assistant under.

One thing Mire doesn’t question is his team’s hunger, though. That can’t always be taken for granted this time of year.

“Some summers, you get to this point, the end of June, and you get the feeling guys are done with baseball and eager to get on with summer break … our guys were determined that they weren’t done yet, though,” Mire said.

“They knew coming into the summer they’d finally get the opportunity to play and they came motivated. I know they’ll be hungry and ready to win, so I’m excited to get out there and see how we play.”

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