After blowing a 1-0 lead late in the game, the locals found themselves trailing by two runs (3-1) in the bottom of the ninth with runners at second and third and two outs.
And with Connor Goss at the plate, facing a 1-2 count against Delhomme hurler Tanner Broussard, the Millers were looking for any kind of spark to keep the game alive.
Goss, who starred at Notre Dame in his recently-completed prep career, provided that spark with a sharp grounder that deflected off the shortstop and rolled into center field.
The shot allowed both runners to score and tie the game and two innings later and the game tied at 3-3, Goss delivered again – without hitting the ball – when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to give the Millers a 4-3 extra-inning victory.
“What gave us a chance was that Connor put the ball in play,” said Millers’ coach Timmy Robichaux of his team’s rally in the ninth inning. “That’s ultimately what helped us get back into the game and win the game.”
The victory sent the Millers to the winner’s bracket finals, where they took on the Heymann Chiefs, a Comeaux-based team, Monday night.. Results from that contest were not available at press time.
A victory over Heymann would send the Millers to tonight’s championship game at 7:30 p.m. A loss would have them playing today at 4:30 p.m. in the loser’s bracket finals.
Although Goss’ hard grounded allowed the tying run to score, Luke Ancelet’s leadoff single to start the frame was what sparked the rally. Hogan Guidry then reached base on a chopper to shortstop to set the stage for Goss.
“Luke was the key,” said Robichaux. “The biggest thing is that the first guy in the inning really determines if you come back or not.
“If you’re trying to hold the lead, you want to get the first out. If you can do that, you have a real good chance of holding them. So getting the leadoff guy on is huge and, definitely, the reason we were able to come back.”
Early in the game, the Millers struggled offensively, missing out on several scoring opportunities as they stranded nine runners in the first seven innings, six in scoring position.
“What hurt us early on was that we just couldn’t get a timely hit,” said Robichaux. “We were having too many strikeouts. We were getting people in scoring position and we couldn’t make contact.
“Late in the game, we started putting the ball in play more and when you do that, you’re going to have a chance to win.”
For the first seven innings, neither team was able to mount much offense.
Delhomme’s Derek Boutin limited the Millers to just four hits through seven frames while Millers’ southpaw Gavin Bourgeois gave up just five hits.
“Gavin gave us a chance to win,” said Robichaux, of Bourgeois who got a no decision after 7 1/3 innings of work. “He put us in a good position; we just couldn’t produce many runs for him.”
Paiton McBride took over for Bourgeois and earned the victory after giving up two hits and striking out three in the 3 2/3 innings.
“Paiton came in on the back end of the game and kept it where it was,” said Robichaux. “He did a good job of coming in behind Gavin and keeping everything where it needed to be to give us a chance and finish out the game.”
Offensively, the Millers had seven hits on the day.
Taylor Doughty had two hits, including a run-scoring double in the seventh inning. Bourgeois, Ancelet, Guidry, Brody Deshotel and Mackay Mouton each had one hit.
Delhomme countered with 10 hits. The Drillers were led by leadoff man Blake Johnson and Hunter Ducorbier, who each went 3-for-4. Johnson also had a triple and Ducorbier drove in a run. Hill Babineaux, Seth Roy, Sean Raines and Tristan Laporte each had one hit.