ALWS Game 6: By Jeremy Field
Building on the momentum of a 12-1 win on Thursday, Destrehan, La., Post 366 put forth another dominating performance to move to 2-0 in pool play and clinch advancement in the American Legion World Series.
Louisiana topped Festus, Mo., Post 253 in Friday’s nightcap, 9-1.
Both teams threatened in the first inning, putting runners in scoring position.
Jacob Melton induced a groundout to end the top of the first inning threat by Louisiana and Cory Cook worked out of trouble with a full count strikeout with runners on second and third in the bottom of the frame ending the Missouri chance.
A pair of walks put a Louisiana runner in scoring position in Kolby Bourgeois and Stephen Powers brought him home with a groundball single that just found its way through the middle for a hit. A hit batter and a pair of back-to-back wild pitches scored two more to extend the lead to 3-0.
Louisiana broke the game open in the fourth with six runs in the top of the frame.
The first four batters reached base all without the ball leaving the infield. Gavin Freeman laced one up the middle and Nick Lorio followed with one through the left side to bring home one and two runs, respectively. Both came around to score two batters later on a Ron Franklin single.
Festus put together a few hits in the bottom of the fifth but aggressive baserunning was costly as the prospective first run of the game was gunned out trying to score from second on a single by a strong throw from Nick Lorio to keep the score 9-0.
“I wasn’t trying to do too much, I just wanted to have my teammates’ backs,” Lorio said of his two big innings.
Stephen Klein came on in relief for Cook in the fifth as the starter pitched four scoreless and allowed only four hits.
“It feels awesome pitching when your offense is hitting like this and your defense is playing like this,” Cook said.
In the bottom of the seventh, Festus finally did some damage as Connor Wilkinson took a 2-1 pitch deep to get Missouri on the board. That was the only hit Klein allowed in three dominating innings as he shut the door with his eighth strikeout.
With the win, Louisiana moved to 2-0 in the four-team pool and due to the two 1-1 teams facing off with each other in the final pool play game, the team is guaranteed a spot in one of the two semifinal games on Monday on ESPNU.
“It feels awesome,” Cook said. “This is what we have been working for all year.”
"I think we're rolling right now and feeling really confident,” Lorio added. “I think we're playing our best baseball right now."
Louisiana plays in the same timeslot on Saturday against 0-2 Albuquerque, N.M., Post 13. On Sunday, Missouri and Danville, Ill., Post 210 square off at 1 p.m., in a must-win contest for both teams.