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2019 American Legion Baseball All-Academic Team announced

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During the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C., Friday, the annual All-Academic Team was announced. The team is sponsored by Diamond Sports, a leading manufacturer in baseball merchandise and the official baseball used during Legion national tournaments.

In order for a player to be eligible, he or she must be nominated by his or her post-affiliated team manager or head coach to the department baseball committee. Each department's baseball committee has reviewed submitted applications and selected an overall state winner to receive a $500 scholarship.

The state winners have been reviewed by the World Series Scholarship Committee comprised of Legionnaires and academic representatives.

Each player on the team receives a $2,500 scholarship. An overall top academic player is named the team captain and awarded a $5,000 scholarship.

The presentation was made by Vice Chairman of the Committee on Youth Education James Davis of West Virginia.

The winners are:

2019 All-Academic Team Captain - Kenshawn Dixon, from Kingston, N.C., Post 49

Northeast – Addison Kopack, from Cumberland, R.I., Post 14

Mid-Atlantic – Jonathan Milton, from Wheeling, W.V., Post 1

Southeast – Trevor Mays, from Bristol, Conn., Post 2

Mid-South – Logan Catton, from Bryant, Ark., Post 298

Great Lakes – Samuel Pinkert, from Rockport, Ind., Post 254

Central Plains – Nickolas Kemper, from Sioux Falls, S.D., Post 15

Northwest – Michael Soper, from Salem, Ore., Post 136

Western – Jack Gallagher, from Petaluma, Calif., Post 78

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ALWS Game 6: Another outstanding performance sends Louisiana to the semifinals

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Box Score

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 Eddie Martin 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.

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Medal of Honor recipient and National Commander greet ALWS teams

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At Kings Mountain, N.C., Post 155 Friday morning, the American Legion post was full with dignitaries and American Legion World Series participants.

For the second year, Post 155 hosted a gathering allowing the eight ALWS teams to hear from a Medal of Honor recipient and the National Commander of The American Legion.

This year’s guest, Hal Fritz, received the Medal of Honor for his acts of bravery during an ambush in the Vietnam War.

He started by discussing the word “hero” and saying, “When comforted with danger they affect that danger positively. Every man and woman in here who has served in the US military is a hero because they faced situations like that and they embraced it and they saved lives. It’s not just something a Medal of Honor displays, every veteran that has served has displayed that courage and that valor.”

A 50-year member of Post 24 in Wisconsin, Fritz was very positive about his time with The American Legion.

“The American Legion is comprised of individuals who care deeply about this country and the future of this country. The American Legion is involved in many programs for the youth of this country. It provides a guidepost, it provides mentorship and it provides the incentive, and a kick in the pants sometimes, to remind the youth that freedom isn’t free.”

He also added some encouragement for the players as they go through the World Series and continue on into adulthood, saying, “It wasn’t just me who received the Medal of Honor, it was the team of soldiers I had with me. And when you’re out on that field, it’s not just you, it’s the team together that makes a difference. And I saw that when I watched you play yesterday. That’s what you want to maintain. Bring that attitude to everything you do and you will be great.

Opening remarks came from National Commander Brett Reistad, who also addressed the players on the field Thursday.

“We are particularly proud of our youth programs and our Americanism programs. The one thing that these programs do for us is that it brings us into contact with people like yourselves and we have the opportunity to spend time with boys and girls of your caliber and it gives us reason to believe that there are people out there who will continue to make our country a great country. We are looking forward to your generation becoming leaders. That’s why The American Legion likes to instill in these programs things like good citizenship and sportsmanship.”

Other guests included Past National Commanders of The American Legion, the National Adjutant, Kings Mountain Mayor Scott Neisler and North Carolina Department Commander James Moore.

Mayor Neisler presented both with keys to the city, as well.

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ALWS Game 5: Illinois takes advantage of mistakes in big win Friday

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Box Score

Danville, Ill., Post 210 rebounded from a loss on Thursday to even its record by topping Albuquerque, N.M., Post 13 on Friday.

Danville capitalized on mistakes and took free bases to earn the 13-2 win.

The first five Danville batters reached base with a pair of walks and a pair of close plays at first resulting in errors made the game 1-0. Logan Spicer ripped a single off the mound and into centerfield to bring home two. After a sacrifice bunt, Lucas Hofer hit a single and brought home one, but Seth Casias and Javier Almager gunned out the trailing runner at the plate. A few more free bases led to another run being forced when Ernest Plummer was hit by a pitch. Plummer, who walked later in the game, reached base in 15 consecutive plate appearances dating back to regionals before that streak ended in the fifth.

Albuquerque got two back in the bottom of the frame when Damien Roddy hit a double and Benito Garcia hit a homer to left to make it 5-2.

Those were the last runs that Ryan Drayer would allow as the right-hander would allow as he went the distance for Danville, allowing just the pair of runs on six hits.

“I just calmed down and tried to hit my spots and hit the corners and my offspeed was working,” Drayer said.

In the third, Drayer got some insurance from Jake Stipp, who pulled a ball got over the right field wall for a solo shot.

In the fifth, Danville added again to their lead. After loading the bases Chase Rademacher was a few feet away from a grand slam but settled for a sacrifice fly and Chase Vinson followed with an RBI single. Danville added two more on an error.

Kotah Broeker drove in two more in the seventh and came around on an error to make the final margin 13-2 after six innings per the American Legion Baseball 10-run rule.

“Today it was a completely different team,” Broeker said. “The energy was so much different in the dugout today. Our dugout has helped us win many games this season. It is amazing to be here. It is a great experience and being the first Post 210 to win a game here is even bigger.”

“It’s awesome to be in Shelby. I am really proud of my teammates and everything we’ve been able to do to get here,” Drayer said.

With the win, Danville moves to 1-1 in the Stripes pool, while Albuquerque fell to 0-2.

Albuquerque, which is the first team to ever make the American Legion World Series from the state of New Mexico, will hope to get in the win column on Saturday night against Louisiana at 7:30 p.m. Danville will face Missouri on Sunday at 1 p.m., in their pool play finale.

The top two teams in each of the four-team pools will advance to the semifinals on Monday.

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ALWS Game 4: North Carolina uses small ball to earn opening night win

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In a World Series filled with mostly newcomers to Shelby, the two teams with recent experience in Shelby squared off under the lights to conclude the first day of play.

Randolph Co., N.C., Post 45, in the World Series for the third straight year, battled to an 8-4 win over Shrewsbury, Mass., Post 397 in its second World Series in three years with no returners from the 2017.

Small ball was the theme of the day as both teams worked counts, were aggressive on the basepaths and took advantage of mistakes.

After the leadoff batter popped out, Randolph got three straight singles from Trevor Marsh, Spencer Lanier and Austin Curry to score the first run of the game.

In the bottom of the frame, Shrewsbury got two men on and John West grounded out to the right side to bring home TJ Morgera, who stole third to set up the opportunity.

In the top of the second Braxton Davis hit a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence to retake the lead for a rare power display in the contest.

“I took the first pitch because it was kind of quick and I was late on it, Davis said. “The second pitch I decided to speed up a bit, got my hands through it and hit it well.”

Shrewsbury leveled again on a wild pitch in the fourth inning which brought home John West.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Shrewsbury once again was busy on the bases and Morgera was at the heart of it again, walking then stealing second and third with one out. His aggressiveness paid off as he scored on an RBI groundout again by West, giving Massachusetts a 3-2 lead despite having only one hit.

In the sixth, Randolph County used some small ball as well, to great success.

The North Carolina team started the inning with two walks and loading the bases on a sacrifice bunt attempt which Shrewsbury couldn’t find an out on.

Randolph brought home six runs in the next six batters on a walk, wild pitch, fielders choice, double by Trevor Marsh, walk and wild pitch.

“I got behind in the count so I choked up on the bat and stepped in and just put the bat on the ball and he supplied all the power,” said Marsh, one of three players in his third American Legion World Series for Randolph County. “This year I came back more confident and relaxed. It’s always fun to be here with my teammates in front of a big crowd.”

Morgera scored again in the seventh on another fielders choice, but the Shrewsbury late rally was thwarted.

Davis is another three-year member of this Randolph team and he added, “It’s a great feeling. It is so cool to play in front of all these fans. It is so cool.”

Massachusetts next plays at 1 p.m., on Saturday against Idaho. North Carolina will play again immediately following on Saturday at 4 p.m., against North Dakota.

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