Larger metro area teams turn back Plaquemine Post 167 in two games at state diamond tourney

Tryve Brackin

Tough larger metro area teams turned back Plaquemine Post 167 for the second straight year in the American Legion State Baseball Tournament Senior A competition.

Coach Heath Whittington’s 167 boys went to Crowley Friday and suffered back-to-back losses and early elimination from the state tourney field.

The locals lost their opener Friday evening by a 12-2 score to the hosting Crowley Legion Millers team. That put the local Legion club in a loser’s bracket game Saturday against Shreveport area’s Huntington Legion club, and, despite a good offensive effort, the 167 boys lost by a 9-6 score to end their tourney competition and their summer season.

Coach Whittington went into the state tourney concerned about drawing the hosting Crowley Millers, who were named after the ballpark and its former minor league franchise, where the tourney was played. The Crowley boys entered the tourney with the best record in state Legion baseball with a 25-1 mark. Huntington of Shreveport was not much of an improvement as that club entered the state tourney with a 15-4 record.

It was the second summer in a row the Plaquemine club qualified for state tourney play, but was downed early by clubs from larger metro area player drawing programs. Last summer Whittington’s 167 club had to wait most of a hot Sunday afternoon to tangle with hosting Gonzales Gauthier-Amadee, their River League archrival, for their opening state tourney game. Hosting Gonzales won the game 9-3. Plaquemine’s club had to sit and await a loser’s bracket game later that evening, and after hours at the ballpark in the heat, the locals fell by an 11-1 score to the Shreveport A’s.

Plaquemine qualified for last year’s state tourney by beating Mandeville LLOG 11-10 in the South Central Legion tournament. This summer the locals surprised some talent opponents by finishing as the runner-up in the Southwest Legion Regional tournament held recently at Baton Rouge’s Pete Goldsby Park. Post 167 beat Anytime Fitness 4-0, then stunned favored Gonzales 12-8 in the winners’ bracket. Plaquemine went on to rout Otto Candies 18-8 for their third-straight tourney win. However, they lost 8-1 to Pelican Waste of Belle Chasse. Gonzales went on to beat Pelican Waste to set up a title game match with Plaquemine. The Gonzales rivals won the tourney with an 11-0 victory, but both teams qualified for state tourney.

Although Plaquemine’s pitchers struggled Friday and Saturday against strong opponent batting orders, the 167 bats came through with determination in the loss to Huntington. Plaquemine out hit Huntington with 14 safeties, but ended up being out scored by their opponents 9-6. Speed on the base paths ignited Huntington’s three-run victory. A pair of Huntington players reached base often enough to steal a combined eight bases on the 167 defense. One player had four hits and five stolen bases.

Future Baton Rouge Community College signee and recent St. John High graduate Andre Landry led the 167 offense in the loss with three hits.

Landry, along with pitcher-infielder Shea Ourso and second sacker Landon Landry, led the 167 club to a 12-9 record. Other starters and key contributors were shortstop Jarod Purpera; first baseman Justin Hudson; catcher Cole Verret; and outfielders Seth Holley, Logan LeJeune, and Ryan Suarez. Ourso was joined on the mound by Kade Yarbrough, Blake Sylvester, and Cody Devillier.

Ourso, Yarbrough, Landon Landry, Suarez, and Verret all return to St. John this school year to anchor the Eagle baseball team. Like Andre Landry, Purpera is a SJHS graduate who is going on to college ball. He will play at Southern. Purpera also played prep baseball at Plaquemine High along with PHS Green Devil 2008 graduates LeJeune, Sylvester, and Devillier. Hudson is a recent SJHS graduate, while Holley is a 2008 graduate of Brusly High and was a college intern coach at St. John last spring.

Backups on the team were returning SJHS infielder Wesley Miller, returning SJHS catcher-infielder Kaleb Campesi, and Catholic High BR product Nathan Black. Playing games during the regular season, but not taking part in Legion tourney competition were SJHS products Corey David, Mike Martinez, and Steven Brocksmith.