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ALWS Game 9: Overturned call helps Louisiana advance to semifinals

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Even as he collided with teammate Jordan Badame, Gonzales (La.) Post 81 centerfielder Zane Zeppuhar was catching a ball hit deep to left center by Wil Courtney of Dubuque County (Iowa) Post 137.

The problem, as Zeppuhar lay on the field dazed by a shoulder to the jaw, was that was just the second out.

Dubuque County’s Sam Link and T.J. Deardorff scored to tie the game. One problem: Deardorff apparently hadn’t tagged up at second.

Gonzales coach Martin Luquet appealed, the officials ruled Deardorff out, and the Louisiana team held on for a 3-2 victory Sunday in the American Legion World Series at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C.

Gonzales finished pool play with a 3-0 record in the Stripes Division. They’ll face the Stars Division runner-ups in Game 14, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.

“It was a great catch, first,” Luquet said of the controversial play. “One of our bench guys saw that the guy on second had never gone back, so that’s where we got the appeal from. Obviously they saw the same thing.”

Gonzales scored three runs in the top of the first inning despite notching just one hit, Brayden Caskey’s leadoff single. Zeppuhar drew a walk and Jack Merrifield reached on a fielder’s choice to score Caskey, and Zeppuhar later scored on Carson Dabadie’s sac fly. Merrifield scored on a sac fly by Reid Bouchereau to make it 3-0.

But despite opportunities, Gonzales couldn’t add to their lead.

“We made some baserunning mistakes in the next two innings that should have got us three more runs,” Luquet said. “They’re not getting thrown out, but they’re supposed to be moving up, we didn’t execute quite the way we planned it. I think it cost us. And you leave a good team around, eventually they’re going to find an inning and they did, and we were fortunate to get that call.”

Dubuque County (1-2) got on the board in the bottom of the third when Courtney’s sac fly drove in Dylan Gotto. But over the last two innings, the Iowa team managed just one base runner and couldn’t make the comeback.

There was still a chance for Dubuque County to advance despite the loss. They would need Braintree (Mass.) Post 86 to defeat Wilmington (Del.) Post 1 in the next game and score three or more runs in doing so, which would leave all three teams tied at 1-2 but give the tiebreaker to the Iowans based on fewest runs allowed (7 for Dubuque County, 8-plus for Wilmington and 10-plus for Braintree in that scenario).

Follow the American Legion World Series on Twitter, Facebook and use the hashtag #ALWS18. And follow along here. The ALWS mobile app makes it easy to follow game coverage. The app, available through the Apple Store and Google Play, keeps baseball fans connected with game schedules, pairings, scores, video highlights, photos and more.


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ALWS Game 8: Two days, one big inning help Idaho to victory

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One big inning was all Meridian (Idaho) Post 113 needed to get its first win in the 2018 American Legion World Series. It just took a little longer than planned.

A downpour delayed the game between Meridian and Randolph Co. (N.C.) Post 45 on Saturday about two hours and pushed a ceremony honoring women veterans as part of USAA Military Appreciation Day to before the game. Then, in the top of the sixth inning, lightning prompted another delay, and an ensuing downpour forced the game to be postponed until Sunday morning.

Meridian held off Randolph County’s comeback bid to win 6-4.

Meridian struck in the bottom of the first inning when leadoff batter Braxton Mills singled, then scored on Carson Smith’s groundout two batters later.

Meridian increased its lead to 5-0 after a four-run third. Jon Milner singled to score Charlie Tentinger and Blake Jablonski, and Smith hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Mills. Riley Harrison followed with a double to score Milner.

Randolph County’s Tristan Marsh broke up Harrison’s no-hit bid with a leadoff home run in the top of the fourth — the first home run of the Series. The next batter, Dawson Painter, reached on an error, and scored on Bryce Marsh’s single to pull the North Carolina squad within 5-2.

Bryce Marsh singled again in the top of the fifth, this time with two out, to drive in Blake Marsh and pull Randolph County within 5-3.

In the sixth, Trevor Marsh and Austin Curry opened with base hits before the lightning delay and downpour postponed the game. When play resumed Sunday morning, Alex Nielebeck, pitching in relief of Harrison, got three straight outs to get out of the jam.

In the bottom of the inning, Nielebeck grounded into a double play but Harrison scored on the play to make it 6-3.

Randolph County still had a chance, pulling to within 6-4 in the top of the seventh when Bryce Marsh doubled to drive in Tristan Marsh. But after giving up one more hit, Nielebeck got the final out to close out the win.

Pool play in the Stars Division was scheduled to wrap up Sunday night, with Meridian facing Midland (Mich.) Post 165 (2-0) and Randolph County meeting Las Vegas Post 40 (1-1).

Follow the American Legion World Series on Twitter, Facebook and use the hashtag #ALWS18. And follow along here. The ALWS mobile app makes it easy to follow game coverage. The app, available through the Apple Store and Google Play, keeps baseball fans connected with game schedules, pairings, scores, video highlights, photos and more.


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ALWS Game 7: Michigan holds off Nevada to stay undefeated in Shelby

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Any expectations of a slugfest between Midland (Mich.) Post 165 and Las Vegas Post 40 ended quickly on Saturday.

The two teams combined for 17 runs in winning their respective American Legion World Series openers. On Saturday, at USAA Military Appreciation Day, Midland stayed undefeated by holding off Las Vegas in a 3-2 victory.

“I knew it would be a tight game, we were going to see a good arm,” Midland coach Steve Cronkright said.

Indeed, the matchup between starters Josh Sharman and Adam Randall saw just one hit over the first 2 1 / 2 innings.

Randall got all the help he would need to pick up the win in the bottom of the third inning.

Logan LaCourse led off with a single but looked like he might be stranded after Midland’s next two batters were out. But Nick Dardas reached on an error to score LaCourse, then scored himself on a single by Tyler David. Martin Money then singled home David to make it 3-0.

Randall held Las Vegas — which pounded out 12 hits and 10 runs in just four innings Thursday — hitless through four innings on Saturday.

“I felt my fastball was locating it well and my slider was my good out pitch, got a couple strikeouts off that,” Randall said.

Jimmy Gamboa had Las Vegas’ first hit with a leadoff single in the fifth. Randall got a groundout and flyout on the next two batters, but hit Jason Sharman with a pitch and gave up a single to Parker Schmidt which scored Gamboa, cutting Midland’s lead to 3-1.

Randall allowed just two hits and one run, with five strikeouts, in five innings of work.

“He’s been our No. 2 (pitcher) all year, throwing the heck out of the ball,” Cronkright said of Randall. “We’re really tickled with him because he threw a lot of pitches but he really worked. He’s a bulldog, and he’s going to get bigger and stronger.”

In the top of the seventh, Evan Schlatter gave up consecutive singles to Jason Sharman, Schmidt and Edarian Williams, with the third hit driving in Sharman to make it 3-2. But Schlatter struck out Chaison Miklich and Seth Gower came in to pitch the final out.

“Now that we’re 2-0 we can really start to do some fun things in the tournament and try to make a run and win it for Michigan,” Randall said.

Medal of Honor recipient James C. McCloughan, a Legionnaire and 35-year American Legion Baseball coach, served as an honorary coach for the Midland squad.

The win puts Midland alone atop the Stars Division in pool play. The other two teams in the division, Randolph Co. (N.C.) Post 45 and Meridian (Idaho) Post 113, were scheduled to play in Game 8 later Saturday.

Follow the American Legion World Series on Twitter, Facebook and use the hashtag #ALWS18. And follow along here. The ALWS mobile app makes it easy to follow game coverage. The app, available through the Apple Store and Google Play, keeps baseball fans connected with game schedules, pairings, scores, video highlights, photos and more.


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Legacy Run hits close to home at opening ceremony

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Commander Jeremy Ehart was proud that his own American Legion Lysle Rishel Post 68 in Hutchinson, Kan., is serving as the starting point for the 2018 American Legion Legacy Run.

But it’s also personal for Ehart, a Marine Corps veteran who suffered burns over 64 percent of his body during a 2004 training accident in California that left him facing 36 surgeries and a six-month hospitalization.

Medically retired, Ehart has a son approaching high school graduation. That the Legacy Run raises scholarship money for the children of fallen servicemembers and 50-percent or higher disabled veterans is not lost on Ehart, also an American Legion Rider.

“It’s an honor … for what the ride is, what the ride represents, what these people do, what they go through for the ride,” Ehart said Aug. 16 as his post hosted more than 250 American Legion Riders for a Mexican dinner and opening ceremony. “I think it means a little bit more probably to me personally. My son, he’s a senior this year, so he’ll actually be applying for this (scholarship). So I have a little bit more vested interest.”

Ehart admitted preparing for the influx of American Legion Riders, Legacy Run support staff, state and national American Legion leadership and community members at the post wasn’t an easy task.

“Trying to prepare for 400 people is nuts,” Ehart said. “It’s been months, plural. And things change constantly. But this post has gotten nothing but compliments. It’s worth it.”

In a touching ceremony, Legion Riders also heard from Gold Star mother Amy Allbright, who came to thank The American Legion for its support for military families. Allbright’s daughter, Sgt. Christina Marie Schoenecker of Arlington, Kan., died in February of this year in Baghdad from a non-combat related incident while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Allbright praised the Legion Riders in general and Post 68 specifically for its support of her and her family following Schoenecker’s death.

"I want to take the time to thank everyone for the love and the support you’ve given us in these past months,” Allbright said. “It’s been the hardest tragedy of my life to lose my precious angel. Thank you … for everything that you’ve done, from being with (Schoenecker) 24 hours a day while she was at the funeral home, to being with us as a family. And her service – honoring her in such a beautiful way.

“It is my honor to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you’ve done … and for the money that you’ve raised. It will make a difference in people’s lives.”

Legacy Run Chief Road Captain Bob Sussan said it’s families like that of Schoenecker that motivate The American Legion Riders to do what they do.

“They come for all around the country,” Sussan said. “We do this for the children. This is all volunteer work. (The Legion Riders) do it. They live it. They do it all year. This is the culmination of it.”

Department of Kansas Commander Dan Wiley said his department had its best Legacy Run fundraising effort ever and praised the Riders for being “the face of our organization so often. Channel 4 in Kansas City doesn’t carry the department convention. But if we have an Honor Flight coming home and you’re there, if we have a flag line (at a funeral), that’s what’s on TV.

“We don’t do it for the applause, but it’s important that everyone know what you are.”

Sons of The American Legion National Commander Danny Smith said the Legion Riders truly represent the American Legion Family. “American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of The American Legion – all involved in The American Legion Riders,” he said.

Hutchinson Mayor Steve Dechant also was in attendance and praised Post 68 for its presence in the community, which includes hosting the National Junior College Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament every year since 1949.

“I’m not surprised that Hutchinson was chosen (as the starting site),” Dechant said. “That’s because of the strength and the activity level of this Legion post.”

The ride leaves Hutchinson at 7:30 a.m. Sunday and will travel to Independence, Mo., with various local rides planned for in and around the Independence and Kansas City areas.


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Delaware ALWS team ‘representing the 302’

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After pitching Wilmington (Del.) Post 1 to victory in Game 1 of the American Legion World Series on Aug. 16, Chris Ludman said his college coach, Jim Sherman, had been sending congratulatory text messages since the team qualified for the Series.

But Ludman, a freshman last season for Sherman at the University of Delaware, joked he’s got some good-natured ribbing to give Sherman when he gets back to campus.

“I’m going to give him a hard time when I get back, though, because we won a game and their team didn’t. I already got something on him I can joke with him about,” Ludman said.

Ludman is part of the first Legion Baseball team from Delaware to reach the ALWS since 1976, which Sherman played for. That 1976 team went winless at the ALWS in Manchester, N.H.; this year’s participants in Shelby, N.C., stood at 1-1 heading into Sunday’s final games of pool play.

Ludman is one of three University of Delaware Blue Hens on Post 1’s roster, along with Jack Dubecq and Justin Tomovich.

Sherman, the head coach at the University of Delaware since 2001, credits his experience playing in the ALWS for laying the foundation for his career. He played collegiately at Delaware and professionally with the Houston Astros, and served as the Blue Hens’ associate head coach from 1995-2000 before replacing Hall of Fame coach Bob Hannah.

Seeing Post 1 representing the state “is huge,” Sherman said.

“(It) is great public relations for the state and American Legion Baseball. I love our local guys from our state playing and their experience will be for a lifetime and something they will always cherish,” he said.

The Blue Hens have 13 players coming in this fall who played Legion Baseball this summer, Sherman said.

“American Legion Baseball is vital in our recruiting and especially in our home state of Delaware,” he said. “All these players come in with respect dedication and honor all due through their experience with American Legion Baseball.”

Post 1 coach Brent Treml said the “tight-knit baseball community” in Delaware means “the whole state is definitely behind us.”

“It makes the kids know and feel that even though we’re far from home, we’re not forgotten. … They’re aware of the history, this doesn’t happen very often, this is a special team and they’re embracing it. So it’s pretty cool to see,” Treml said.

For Ludman, the experience is a chance to “represent the 302,” he said, referencing Delaware’s area code.

“I like trying to put Delaware on the map,” he said.


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Did you know?

Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request. This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family.