And for the most part, Wednesday night’s title game against Jennings was one of those down days.
The Americans went down on strikes nine times on the night and were limited to just four hits by Jennings hurler Joey Scogin.
But even with the offense stagnant for most of the contest, the Americans found a way to get it done.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the top of the seventh, Jon-Riley Mouton drew a two-out walk, stole second and, after two straight wild pitches, scored the eventual winning run to give the Americans a 2-1 victory.
The late-inning heroics propelled the locals into next week’s Southwest Zone Tournament in Burleson, Texas.
“Tonight was definitely an ugly win,” said Crowley coach Timmy Robichaux. “We really didn’t hit the ball well the whole tournament and we’re kind of lucky to be where we are.
“We hit it in one little spurt, but that’s just baseball. You have to be mentally tough to fight through it and that’s what happened tonight.
“It was an ugly win, but it was a tough win against a very good team.”
With Crowley struggling offensively, Pate Broussard did his part to keep the Americans in the game. He kept Jennings off balance for most of the night, surrendering just one run on three hits while striking out 11.
“Pate did a good job on the mound for us,” said Robichaux. “He kept us in the game after each inning and didn’t get frustrated.”
Broussard held Jennings in check for the first three innings before giving up a run-scoring double to Keagan Richard in the fourth.
The Americans had a chance to get out of the inning unscathed after an error to start the inning, but a popup in foul territory was mishandled, giving Richard another swing. He took advantage of the opportunity and drove a 2-2 fastball to the right center gap to drive in Jennings’ only run of the game.
“I guess some of that was just the pressure of the game,” said Robichaux of the fourth-inning mishap. “Every time we get together with Jennings, no matter who is on the mound, it’s going to be a close game and I think everyone knows that. It was a little bit of tension on defense but overall, I think we just found a way to win.”
Jennings’ lead didn’t last long, however.
With one out in the top of the fifth inning, Mouton connected on a pitch from Scogin and drove a line drive over the left centerfield wall to knot the game at 1-1.
“For us to answer right back was big,” said Robichaux. “It didn’t give them (Jennings) much time to get a lot of momentum off that run that they scored. We hadn’t had many good swings in the game at that point and J-Rock (Mouton) steps up and hits the ball hard and hits it out of the park. That kind of woke us up right there.”
Mouton stepped up again in the seventh inning and with two outs when he worked the count full before drawing a walk. Two pitches later he stole second base and then reached third on a wild pitch. The very next pitch also went to the backstop allowing Mouton to score.
“We get the walk and a steal and two passed balls, he’s home,” said Robichaux. “That’s why we always say you have to throw strikes to win. The passed ball gave us something that we didn’t earn.”
Broussard gave up a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh, but he then struck out Wesley Simien and Mark Hollier to end the contest.
“Pate’s arm was a little tender late this summer and he had kind of laid off a little bit on throwing,” said Robichaux. “But he came back and threw four good innings against Mamou. His arm was fresh so we were hoping we would get a good outing from him and he would go all seven and that’s what we got.”
On the night, Scogin limited the Americans to just four hits. He struck out nine and walked five in suffering the loss.
Bubba Daigle had two of Crowley’s hits while Mouton had a home run and Broussard had a single.
Jennings collected just three hits off Broussard. Richard had a double and an RBI while Tyler Trahan and Scogin each had a single.
“In this tournament, our pitching was really there for us,” said Robichaux, whose team gave up just four runs in three games. “Everybody has done a good job and we try to make them understand that it’s pitching and defense that’s going to give you a chance to win. You’re not going to hit every game and we proved that. But by pitching and playing defense, we gave ourselves a chance to win.”