Jesuit-based Retif Oil back in familiar setting as American Legion state champion
There are many great local stories to tell about American Legion baseball with great teams emanating from S.J. Peters, Holy Cross, Brother Martin, De La Salle, Archbishop Rummel, Archbishop Shaw and independent-based teams who have excelled, winning state titles.
Rummel has a national title to its credit, via Nationwide Restoration, in 2006.
The most accomplish Legion program locally is Jesuit.
The Blue Jays captured their 17th American Legion state championship, most among Louisiana-based legion teams, with a 5-1 win Tuesday night over Gibbs Construction at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.
— Retif Oil Legion Baseball (@JHSNolaBaseball) July 15, 2021
The first state title was in 1931 with the last being in 2015 for Jesuit.
The Blue Jays won American Legion World Series championship in 1946 and again as Tulane Shirts in 1960, featuring the likes of Rusty Staub.
Jesuit won the national championship again in 2012 as Retif Oil with Emerson Gibbs leading the way.
Jesuit again won the state title in 2015 and its Retif Oil team reached the American Legion World Series, finishing as national runner-up.
Kenny Goodlett Jr. was an assistant coach on the 2012 and 2015 teams and is now the head coach of Retif Oil and the Jesuit High teams.
“It is special,” Goodlett said. “I feel really happy for our players, I’m proud of them, especially the four seniors that back. It was a great accomplishment.”
Gibbs Construction, as Pedal Valves, won the state championship in 2016, 2017 and 2019 while independent Gauthier Amadee won the Louisiana title in 2018. The Cardinals (Gibbs Construction) advanced to the American Legion World Series in 2019.
“Gibbs Construction and Gauthier Amadee are two very good programs, well coached, very talented teams,” Goodlett said. “This tournament, we got to play both of them. To come out on the winning side is definitely pleasing for us.”
In Tuesday’s title game, Gibbs Construction took a 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the third inning on an RBI single by Cameron Senior.
Retif Oil (17-2) took the lead for good with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on an RBI single by William Good and a two-run double by Tripp Haddad. Good, hitting .473, provided insurance with a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“William Good, the moment’s not too big for him,” Goodlett said. “He’s going to be a junior and he’s a clutch player for us. He enjoys those moments. He had a great at-bat with the first big hit. Then, they intentionally walked the bases loaded, which was the right play, to get to them and he came up with another big hit to score two runs.”
Holden Hess (5-0) pitched a complete game, striking out seven, allowing just six hits for the victory.
“He has had a phenomenal season overall, prep, legion, getting all the awards you can possibly get,” Goodlett said. “He pitched the first game against Refuel (Shaw). We got to take him out a little bit earlier so we would have a chance to have him back for the championship game and it paid off. Just a phenomenal job.”
Tyler Nichol took the loss for Gibbs Construction (27-6).
“I am really proud of our guys,” Gibbs coach Danny Riehm said. “Based on the road they traveled to get to the state finals, I was as proud of any team we had that won state titles. They played hard every day. We got to the final game. That is all you can ask for as a coach. It was a heck of a summer. They are all well prepared to move on to college baseball and be successful. 100 percent of our roster is going to play college baseball.”
With the win, Jesuit completed a sweep, winning the Division I state championship and the American Legion state title, the first time that has happened at the school since 1980 and the first time that a local team has done so since 1987, when Rummel won the 4A state championship and it’s Schaff Brothers squad won the state legion title.
While most schools have either pulled out of legion, use it as a development took with younger players and even share players with travel ball, Jesuit still takes legion baseball very seriously.
“It truly does,” Goodlett said. “Anytime you win a prep state championship, you’re always reminded that you can win two in one year. It is an investment and something that we take great pride in. It’s a great tradition.”
Retif Oil now advances to the eight-team Southeast Regional tournament in Pelham, Alabama Aug. 4-8, opening against the Alabama state champion at Bobby Hayes Stadium at approximately 4 p.m.
“It’s another chance to compete,” Goodlett said. “We haven’t been there in a little while and none of our guys have. To try to win another championship for our team, for our school, we’re looking forward to it.”
The winner of the Southeast Regional advances to the American Legion World Series Aug. 12-17 at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, North Carolina.
“I was part of both teams (2011, 2015) to play in the World Series,” Goodlett said. “It’s just a phenomenal experience to make it and it’s a great experience to make it to the regional. It’s a different tournament with a different feel and I really hope our guys get a chance to experience that.”
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…