The locals, which defeated Minden earlier in the day to reach the title game, carried an 11-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning against the undefeated Heymann Chiefs in the nightcap and they needed just three outs to seal the victory and force a winner take all contest Wednesday evening.
But then the unthinkable happened.
The Millers fell apart in the bottom of the frame, giving up three hits, allowing five walks and committing a two-run error that allowed the Chiefs to score seven runs and slip away with a stunning 12-11 victory.
“They got a gift, that’s what it is,” said Millers’ coach Timmy Robichaux following the loss. “Walks are gifts. You’re giving them something they didn’t earn and they didn’t have to work for. And it always comes back to haunt you. It will come back to beat you and that’s what it did.”
Despite the breakdown, the Millers still had a chance to close out the game.
Robichaux’s squad turned a key double play with the bases loaded when the Chiefs cut the lead to 11-10. But a walk followed and after a steal, the winning run was sitting at second base.
The Millers looked as if they would hold off the rally when pitcher Paition McBride fielded a chopper between the mound and third base.
But McBride’s throw to first base for the potential final out was dropped, allowing the tying and winning runs to score.
“It’s tough,” said Robichaux. “In that situation right there, we have to hold on to the ball and make the last out. A game is never over until you make the last out and the last three outs of a game are the toughest to get.”
Early on, the Chiefs looked as if they were going to cruise to the regional title when they jumped out to a 4-0 lead after three innings.
But the Millers scored two runs in the fourth inning and added two more in the fifth to tie the game.
The Millers grabbed their first lead of the game one inning later when Brennan Corzine doubled and scored on a single by Mackay Mouton.
Then, in the sixth, the Millers grabbed control of the game by scoring six runs on five hits, including a bases-loaded triple by Connor Goss.
The Millers finished the night with 13 hits.
Brody Deshotel led the charge with a 4-for-6 performance that included a double and two RBI. Goss added two hits, including a triple and three RBI.
McBride and Corzine also had two hits each while Mouton, Luke Ancelet and Michael Thevis each had one.
“I think our guys did a good job at the plate,” said Robichaux. “They hit well enough for us to win. We got a lead, but we have to come out and finish the game. Again, it’s back to giving them too many freebies in that last inning.”
The Chiefs’ dramatic rally thwarted what would have been an amazing day for the Millers.
After losing to the Chiefs Monday evening, 11-10, the Millers rebounded with a 7-4 victory over Minden Tuesday in the first game of the day.
In that contest, the Millers got a much needed boost from Goss, who tossed a complete game and scattered four hits in earning the victory.
Then, in the second game, the locals got another unexpected pitching performance from Deshotel, who gave the Millers seven strong innings.
Neither Goss nor Deshotel had touched the mound since midway through the prep season.
“That’s ultimately why we had a chance to win both games,” said Robichaux of Goss and Deshotel’s pitching performances. “Connor did an awesome job in the first game and Brody did a great job of getting us deep into the game in the second one. Those two on the mound are really the reason we really had a chance.”
In the first game of the day, the Millers also faced adversity early on.
Minden jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before the Millers rallied for four runs in the bottom of the third inning. Goss had a two-run double and Deshotel drove in a run with a single in the frame.
Gavin Bourgeois’ run scoring single in the bottom of the fourth put the Millers up 5-3 before the locals added two more runs in the eighth.
Overall, the Millers had 12 hits against Minden.
Bourgeois had three hits and two RBI while Mouton and Thevis each had two hits.
Goss, Deshotel, McBride, Ancelet and Brennan Bobbett each had one hit.
“To come out, especially in the heat early, to play two games back-to-back after losing a close game the night before…. I’m proud of the way our kids played,” said Robichaux. “This tournament was what we needed to get some games under our belt. We hadn’t played a lot of games this summer and I think between now and next weekend, if we can get enough practice in, I think we have a good chance to win some games in the state tournament.”
The Millers will have a little more than a week off before they begin play in the American Legion State Tournament that begins on July 28. That tournament will also be played at Tigue Moore Field.