Hahnville baseball coach David Baudry’s goal of getting his HHS-based Otto Candies team to the American Legion state tournament could come to fruition with a few strong performances in the next few days.
Otto Candies is headed to Chalmette today to face the Chalmette High School-based Gulf Coast Bank in opening round action at the Second District East tournament. The tourney is double-elimination and the top two teams will advance to the state tournament. All district tournament games will be played at Chalmette.
Baudry’s squad enters the competition with the fourth seed in the bracket, but on paper there appears to be no clear favorite between the teams, which also include Shaw-based Refuel, Rummel-based Deanie’s Seafood and the John Curtis Patriots. Shaw felled Hahnville on Monday in a game that determined which of the two teams would be the district’s top seed.
“I feel pretty good going in,” Baudry said, noting the Shaw loss was a blip in what’s been a strong run of performances recently. “We’ve had some bouts of playing poor defense, and that really killed us (against Shaw). But we’ve made big strides this summer, and at times we’ve played some great baseball.”
Otto Candies (10-9) is replacing much of its lineup from the past prep season, with a large number of senior starters moving on.
The pitching rotation has found its footing behind Joey Saucier and Jack Stumbo, with Seth Whitney and Dustin Porter Jr. among those who have shown strong progress and potential on the team’s staff.
“I think more than anything, the summer has allowed our younger guys to push their outings a little further along in games,” Baudry said. “All can be good for one inning, but guys are showing what they can do beyond that. Coming out of the summer, I think there’s a lot of potential there.”
Offensively, it’s been Ethan Chacon, Hayden Theriot and Max Farrell leading the way.
Baudry said advancing from the double-elimination tournament will take finding the consistency on defense that’s eluded the team thus far, finding hits in key situations and continuing to throw strikes on the mound.
Against Shaw Monday, Refuel jumped ahead 4-0 in the first inning before Otto Candies cut the lead to 5-3 by the sixth. Refuel stalled the rally, though, and added three runs in the top of the seventh to earn an 8-3 win and the district tournament’s top seed.
Chacon went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a double. Saucier went 2-for-3. Ryan Barbier doubled and drove in a run.
Otto Candies’ Cameron Schmill and Dustin Ford allowed one earned run between them, but a few costly errors led to seven Refuel runs. Schmill took the loss, allowing two hits and five runs (four unearned) with a strikeout. Ford went 3.2 innings and allowed three runs (none earned) and struck out eight.
Baudry said the team’s summer focus on hitting, pitching and baserunning fundamentals with a new crop of players has left a bit less time for focus on defense than usual, but he believes his players have the tools to turn that into a strength.
“We have guys that can play defense,” Baudry said. “We just have a hard time overcoming a mistake, sometimes. One usually leads to another. It comes with experience.”