Pedal Valves wins state, looks to take next step in American Legion
Doing it the hard way is often most satisfying.
In any double-elimination baseball tournament, coming out of the loser’s bracket is a daunting task. Someone forgot to tell Pedal Valves.
The Cardinals lost to Jesuit-based Retif Oil in their second game of the American Legion state tournament at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium and rallied back to capture the state title Thursday.
Pedal Valves thus captured its third American Legion state championship in four years under head coach Danny Riehm.
Up next for the Cardinals is the eight-team Southeast Regional with a chance to reach the American Legion World Series.
“It was pretty unbelievable the way we did it with all the rain and a field that was tough to play on with many, many delays and playing late at night,” Riehm said. “It was pretty crazy. This team overcame lots of adversity.”
Pedal Valves had to go extra innings against defending state champion Gauthier Amedee, lost to Retif Oil, beat St. Landry Bank on a walk-off hit, found a way to beat Crowley and to hold off the Southland Hogs in a walk-off victory before defeating Retif Oil 9-0 in a rematch Thursday evening before a packed house for the state championship.
The Cardinals open play on Aug. 7 at Tampa, a change from recent years.
“They moved Louisiana from the Mid-South regional to the Southeast Regional,” Riehm said. “We open with the Alabama state champion and they are really good. The two teams from South Carolina are very good. The Tallahassee team is the four-time defending state champion. Jesuit-Tampa has an outstanding team and consistently good program. Mississippi and Tennessee entries are very good as well. It will be a very tough regional.”
Pedal Valves (31-7) is playing its best baseball of the season.
“We are 15-1 in our last 16 games,” Riehm said. “We on a heck of a tear. It’s a group of guys who don’t quit.
“It’s everything that’s good about the game the way these kids play. They compete until the final out. It has been something to watch. I feel there’s something special going on with this group. There’s not many teams that could answer the bell like this team did.”
Pedal Valves has been led by Stephen Klein of Delgado by way of De La Salle; Nick Lorio of St. Charles Catholic, who won a prep and Legion state title in the same year, and Cory Cook, another De La Salle product, was huge offensively and on the mound.
T.J. Thomas of Destrehan was an excellent leadoff hitter and pitched very well against Gauthier Amedee and the Southland Hogs. Gavin Freeman of De La Salle and Delgado came up big in the title game.
Josh McCord from Destrehan got the win against Retif Oil. Coedy Fonseca of De La Salle had a very good tournament. Kolby Bourgeois of Lutcher played an outstanding outfield and had key hits. Avery Schexnaydre came up big constantly offensively.
“It was really everyone contributing,” Riehm said. “It was different guys stepping up in different moments. It was as true team win. It took everyone to accomplish this.”
The winner of the Southeast Regional goes to Shelby, N.C., for the American Legion World Series Aug. 15-20.
“We have that goal in our sight,” Riehm said. “That has been the ultimate goal since Day 1. We want to try to take that next step. We were on the brink of it in 2017. Hopefully, we can take that step for our kids, coaches and for parents.”
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and 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 Football Foundation, College…