Russell Hedges
rhedges@bossierpress.com

Bossier City-based Louisiana Empire finished runner-up in its 10-under division in the USSSA Global World Series played June 27-July 1 in Gulf Shores, Ala.

After going 4-3 in pool play, Empire won three straight games in bracket play before falling in the championship game.

Empire defeated the Central (La.) Bulldogs 4-3, Ascension (Prairieville, La.) Biscuits 9-8 and Clinton (Miss.) Mudcats 8-2. They lost to the Leopard (Baton Rouge) Dawgs Blue 12-8.

The team, playing together for the first time, finished the season 31-15.

“They exceeded everyone’s expectations,” said Holden Orgeron, a former Parkway All-Parish player who coached the team along with Shane Thetford, Chad Presley and Neil Carlisle.  “It made life so much easier having eleven kids that wanted to be the best they could be. They wanted to get better every practice.

“The most satisfying part of it all is that when we lost in the championship game the boys were not sad because they lost. They were sad because they knew their season was over. They grew so much together and cared for each other. That’s what it’s all about.”

Against Central, starting pitcher Griffin Sibley allowed one earned run and struck out three in four innings. Jack Carlisle struck out the side for the save.

Carlisle, Parker Presley, Canaan Andres and Cade Moore had hits. Brooks Prewitt had the go-ahead RBI.

Sibley struck out three in two innings against Ascension. Carlisle  struck out three in two innings of relief.

Empire rallied from a 5-1 deficit to take a 6-5 lead heading into the last inning. The Biscuits rallied with three runs for an 8-6 lead.

Above: Bossier City-based Louisiana Empire finished runner-up in the USSSA Global World Series 10-under division. The tournament was played June 27-July 1 in Gulf Shores, Ala. Left to right: Parker Presley, Cade Moore, Colton Birdsong, Abel Thetford, Jackson Jones, Griffin Sibley, Jack Carlisle, Jacob High, Brooks Prewitt, Canaan Andres, Logan Marsh. Coaches: Chad Presley, Holden Orgeron, Shane Thetford, Neil Carlisle. (Courtesy Photo)
Top: Cade Moore picks up Colton Birdsong after Birdsong’s walk-off hit in a 9-8 victory over the Ascension Biscuits in the USSSA 10-under Global World Series in Gulf Shores, Ala. (Courtesy Photo)

Empire leadoff batter Logan Marsh was hit by a pitch. Presley and Jackson Jones both singled to load the bases. Abel Thetford singled home Marsh making it 8-7.

Jacob High then singled into right field, tying the game. Colton Birdsong fought off several tough pitches before driving a ball over the right fielder’s head, scoring Jones to win the game.

In the semifinals, Carlisle allowed just one run in five innings while striking out seven. Sibley led the team with two hits and two RBI.

Birdsong also drove in two runs. Andres, Presley and Prewitt had one RBI apiece. Moore also had two hits.

In the championship game, Empire rallied from an 8-1 deficit to tie it heading into the last inning. The Leopard Dawgs took advantage of some walks and timely hits to take the 12-8 lead.

Presley, Thetford, High, Birdsong, Sibley, Carlisle and Andres all had one hit. Birdsong had two RBI.

Birdsong hit .455 in the tournament and had eight RBI. Presley hit .430 and stole 12 bases. Sibley had 10 strikeouts in eight innings and hit .357.

Carlisle struck out 16 in eight innings and had several timely hits.

Andres hit .430 and had some timely hits. He also contributed with his defensive play, Orgeron said.