Destrehan, La., Post 366 batted around in consecutive innings, overcoming a late deficit for a resounding victory to stay perfect in pool play.
Behind by three on two different occasions, Destrehan ultimately was victorious over Albuquerque, N.M., Post 13 by a score of 14-6.
New Mexico hit the ball hard in the first inning but couldn’t find any holes. Kolby Bourgeois made one of the better defensive plays of the tournament to prevent a hit with a diving catch in shallow right field after charging in hard.
There were no hits by either team over the first two innings, but that didn’t stop Louisiana from threatening in the bottom of the second. The first two batters walked, but Javier Almager forced a ground ball double play then got a pop out to end the inning.
With Gavin Freeman up in the third, Gavin Freeman grounded into a force out but beat the throw to first to allow Avery Schexnaydre to score the first run of the game.
Albuquerque made a lot of noise in the fourth, getting a leadoff single and then advancing runners with a walk then a single. With the bases loaded, Seth Casias walked to bring home a run and Roy Jennings brought home two more with a single to center. New Mexico capped the inning with one more run coming across via an RBI groundout and finished the top of the fourth with a 4-1 lead.
Destrehan got two back in the bottom of the fourth when Ron Franklin led off with a single and Kolby Bourgeois drilled a 2-1 pitch off the top of the scoreboard in right field.
"We needed a boost and I was able to give my team that boost," Bourgeois said.
New Mexico immediately responded with two runs push the edge back up to three in the fifth. Damien Roddy got the rally started with a one-out single after fouling off three pitches. Benito Garcia followed with a single and Brent Rigtrup lined a single to left field to bring home Roddy. Later in the inning, Seth Casias lined a two-out single into center to bring Garcia home.
The game turned in the bottom of the fifth as Destrehan brought 10 batters to the plate, turning a three run deficit into a three run advantage. The Southeast champions loaded the bases with a single and two walks to lead off the inning and Stephen Klein hammered a ground ball down the first base line into the corner for a bases clearing triple to tie the game. After a walk and a stolen base, Kolby McWilliams brought a pair home to take the lead and later TJ Thomas brought home McWilliams to make the lead 9-6.
In the sixth, Louisiana padded its lead with a pair of singles and a hit by pitch setting up Bourgeois with the bases loaded. The first baseman lined a single to right, adding two more runs. Stephen Powers followed and battled in the count before another line drive single to right scoring one more. Schexnaydre then cleared the bases with a double to the wall in right-center.
Being behind was nothing new to Louisiana, which faced deficits as large as 6-0 in the sixth inning in districts all the way through multiple walk-off wins in states and regionals.
"It is just how this team has played all summer," manager Danny Riehm said. "It has been a special group of competitors that play hard to the last out."
"It was an all-around total team effort," Bourgeois added. "With this team we are never out of the game."
Louisiana, which got hits from ten different players, will be the top seed in the Stars pool and advance to the semifinal on Monday, facing the runner-up from the Stripes pool at 4 p.m.
"We knew we had clinched the pool but this was the last on-field performance that would be in their minds before they play in the national semifinal," Riehm added. "Hopefully with 10 guys having hits they're feeling good about what they're doing at the plate."
New Mexico’s historic season ends as Post 13 became the first team from the state of New Mexico to reach the American Legion World Series.
This game was part of USAA Military Appreciation Day, which featured a Medal of Honor recipient and a parade of veterans on the field prior to the game.
Bourgeois was honored to be involved, saying, "To be here at a tournament that veterans are putting on for us, that is nationally televised, is a great honor. We appreciate everything that they have done so we can be here today. I just want to thank all of the veterans, especially my grandfather, for everything they have done for this country."