So it was no surprise that both teams handily defeated their opponents in the first three rounds to advance to Sunday’s winner’s bracket finals.
But the much anticipated matchup between the two teams was not nearly as close as most would have thought it would be.
The Americans sent 17 batters to the plate and scored 11 runs in to the top of the first inning and coasted to a 13-0 victory over the tournament hosts and assumed the driver’s seat in the regional affair.
The victory sends the undefeated Americans into tonight’s championship game that will be played at 6 o’clock. The winner of the tournament advances to the South Zone Tournament in Tampa, Fla. beginning on July 19.
“The kids aren’t stupid, they kind of looked at the bracket and circled this game,” said Crowley coach Chris Stevens. “I haven’t talked to them too much about it, but they can read a bracket just as well as I can. We kind of did what we had to do to get to this game and I think we played as well tonight as we played all summer.”
For Crowley, the first inning barrage that consisted of nine hits, was a welcomed sight for Stevens, who watched his team struggle offensively the night before in an 11-4 victory over CSA (Cajun Sports Association). Although the American’s did have 10 hits in that game, two of those were bunt singles and two more were infield hits.
“Jumping out to a big lead early was huge,” said Stevens, whose offense gave starting pitcher Will Doughty more than enough run support. “We haven’t given up 10 runs all year to anybody. You throw Will up there with a 10-run lead and they’re in for a long row to hoe.”
Leadoff man Collin Kirsch got the Americans going when he drove a 1-1 pitch from Chance Prejean over the right field wall for a home run.
From there, the onslaught was on.
Garrett Cormier followed with a double to left center field and following a walk to John Hoffpauir, Doughty and Thomas Stevens recorded back-to-back singles. Kaizer Lamm also singled, bringing up Kirsch again, who this time drilled a two-run double to right field.
Doughty also had two hits in the inning while Devin Mouton and John William Lamm each had a single.
“The leadoff home run gave us a big spark,” said Stevens. “Collin is a game changer. He’s in the one-hole, probably not a typical one-hole hitter, but he can change a game whenever he’s up there. But what I thought was just as big was Garrett coming up there right after Collin and knocking a double out into left center. That was just as big.
“That said ‘hey guys, you’re here for the duration because we’re not just a one-man team’. That right there was just as big as the home run.”
The early led gave Doughty plenty of breathing room and he was true to form on the mound as he sat Brown Park down in order in the first inning and didn’t surrender a single hit on the night. He stuck out six and walked three in four innings of work.
“Will came out and pitched with the lead and threw strikes,” said Stevens. “They ( Brown Park ) put a few balls in play and for the most part, we made the plays.”
The Americans added a pair of runs in the second inning on a double from Cormier and another RBI single from Doughty but failed to push across a run in the final three frames.
“You know, Brown Park has some good arms,” said Stevens, whose team had just three base runners in the final three innings, all of which drew walks. “They throw the ball well and they have a good defense. We had some balls in the gaps that usually fall for us but those guys had speed and they made some great catches on the run.”
Doughty gave way to John Hoffpauir in the fifth inning and it didn’t take him long to close the game out. Hoffpauir struck out the final three batters to seal the victory and send the Americans into tonight’s championship game.
“John, his last two or three outings, has been dominant,” said Stevens of Hoffpauir. “He’s a strike throwing machine. He can throw it in, he can throw it out, he can throw it up and he can throw it down. We have just as much confidence with him out there because we have a pretty strong defense. Teams might put a few balls in play but they are going to have to earn their way on.”
Doughty also led the charge offensively. He went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI. Kirsch followed with two hits, including a home run and three RBI.
Cormier added two doubles and one RBI while Stevens, Mouton, John William Lamm and Kaizer Lamm each had one hit.