Destrehan’s American Legion team ES&H advanced to this week’s Southeast Regional after earning two wins over Hahnville’s Legion squad last week in the Second District tournament.
Destrehan’s team, which plays its summer games under the banner the ES&H Wildcats, came up with a 7-4 victory Friday to move to 2-1 at the district tournament,in the process eliminating Otto Candies (Hahnville),
With the win, ES&H became the Second District West’s No. 2 seed, which earns a bid to the eight-team Southeast Regional field.
The Southeast Regional is set to be contested Saturday through Wednesday (July 8-12) at Delgado’s Kirsch-Rooney Stadium in New Orleans.
ES&H will begin play at the double-elimination tourney Saturday with a game against De La Salle. Wildcats coach Chris Mire didn’t have to think long about what the biggest key will ultimately be for the team that wins the tourney.
“Winning the first one,” he said. “You want to stay on that winner’s bracket as long as you can. Your pitchers have to give you a chance to win, especially in a nine-inning game (Legion games from the regional on will be contested in nine-innings). If you have to go deep into your bullpen early, you’re in a boat load of trouble.”
Pitching was a strength for ES&H in its wins over Otto Candies last week, holding the opposition to four combined runs over their two games. Sophomore Josh McCord’s 4.2 shutout innings in the first game displayed an example of a player Mire said has really asserted himself this summer. Meanwhile, seniors Dustin Joliff, Zack Wild and Bryce Rochelle made a difference with their bats.
“If your seniors don’t play well and you don’t pitch well, you don’t have a shot,” Mire said. “We were able to win last week because they got it done.
Otto Candies led 2-0 headed into the third inning of the second game between the teams, but ES&H took control by scoring five runs in the bottom of the third inning. Zack Wild got the Wildcats started with a one-out single. T.J. Thomas reached on an error before Bryce Rochelle doubled home his team’s first run of the game. Dustin Joliff was hit by a pitch, Avery Schexnaydre reached on an error and two more runs scored to push ES&H ahead. Clay Hurm and Cole Porter each drove in runs to make it a 5-2 lead, and ES&H didn’t look back.
The Wildcats outhit Otto Candies 11-3 on the day. Joliff was 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. Rochelle went 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI.
Dane Wise led Otto Candies, going 2-for-3 at the plate.
Thomas earned the win for ES&H, going 5.2 innings and allowing two hits and an earned run.
ES&H split its first two games of the district tournament last Tuesday and Wednesday, besting Otto Candies 3-0 in the opener and then falling 11-1 to Pedal Valves.
The American Legion State championship tournament will also be held at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium Aug. 2-6. To get there, Mire’s team will have to run through a gauntlet.
“It’s definitely not going to be easy,” Mire said. “You always want that measuring stick, though. You want your program to be up there with Jesuit, Holy Cross, Brother Martin and all those guys. It’s the top teams in the area, then you throw in Pedal Valves, a team full of college guys, then Gauthier & Amedee, basically an Ascension Parish all-star team … you want the opportunity to play teams like that and see how your kids respond to these games with something on the line.
“You really just want your team to come out and play well. If we can just compete the right way and play to our best capability, I can be happy win or lose. You don’t want to go into the offseason on a flat note.”