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American Legion rallies in seesaw thriller, 12-11

Just when it seemed as if one team was on the verge of being knocked out, it came off the ropes to turn the tables.
If Monday’s game one of the pony championship had been a boxing match, it certainly would’ve gone 12 rounds. Top-seeded American Legion (AL) trailed 5-0 early and lost a big lead late, but at game’s end it managed to squeak out a 12-11 victory over Price Distributing (PD). AL moved to 12-3 with the win while PD now stands at 8-6 with the two teams set to meet again on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“This wasn’t our best game, but the guys stuck with it and pulled out the win,” said AL coach Tony Wilhoite.
“We’ve got a lot of heart and desire on the team. It’s been a good season and we want to keep it going.”
“We got off to a great start at 5-0 against their ace pitcher,” said PD coach Kevin Oates.
“I think our younger pitcher (Ryan Wesley) threw them off for a while. [AL] pulled ahead, but we’ve had to play from behind all season and our guys kept battling.”
Dylan Macon connected on the game-winning RBI single for AL and had an impressive night with two singles and a team-high three RBIs. Julian Erdman stepped up with a two-hit game of his own (double, single, two RBIs) and Nathan Dixon fought through hardship to toss a complete game for the victors. For PD, Jay Williams (double, single, three RBIs) and Ryan Wesley (two singles, three RBIs) delivered offensively while E.J. LaForge crushed a two-run homer.
PD came out firing with a four-run first inning as Chad Stockton hit a leadoff single. RBI singles by Wesley and Luis Flores gave the underdogs a boost while two more runs scored on a throwing error before Dixon struck a batter out with the bags full.
“Ryan’s hitting has come around for him and that’s good to see,” Oates said.
Wesley sat the home team down in order in the AL first with a strikeout as right fielder Anthony LaForge made an excellent running catch. PD took advantage of some walks in the second as Williams’ RBI fielder’s choice made it 5-0 before Macon fielded a groundout at third base. AL managed to cut into the deficit in the bottom of the inning as Macon connected on an RBI fielder’s choice while an error committed on Josh Garcia’s grounder plated two for a 5-3 score.
AL finally enjoyed a quick defensive inning in the third as catcher Chase Durham caught a foul pop while Dixon and first baseman Joel Watson fielded groundouts. The home team then exploded in the AL third with seven runs to go up 10-5 as Erdman (single, two-RBI double), Watson (single), Macon (RBI sac fly), Dixon (two-RBI single), Durham (RBI single) and Brandon Cruz (RBI single) each did their part. Reliever Mummert struck out the second batter he faced to get PD off the field while Flores made a superb leaping snowcone snag on Macon’s sac fly.
“Julian is from Germany and didn’t start playing until he was 11,” Wilhoite said.
“He loves the game and made himself into a ballplayer by giving 110 percent. Chase is solid behind the plate and he works well with Nathan to be able to call the pitches. Offensively, he’s had some key hits recently.”
“Luis is a young player who developed for us this year,” Oates said.
“He shined with a big hit and a great catch. That was one of the toughest catches I’ve seen this year.”
Down but not out, PD had a roaring answer in its fourth inning with four-straight hits as Mummert doubled to deep center, Wesley hit a two-RBI single to left, E.J. LaForge crushed a two-run homer into a tree beyond the center-field fence and Williams drilled a line double to right center. Despite all of those fireworks, Dixon kept his head in the game and struck out two of the next three batters to keep AL up 10-9.
“Clayton’s double really got us going,” Oates said.
“That was E.J.’s third homer and you can see why they walked him afterwards [in the fifth].”
“Nathan is a great kid and didn’t get down just because this wasn’t his best game,” Wilhoite said.
“He stayed focused and made some big pitches toward the end.”
Despite Macon’s leadoff single in the bottom of the inning, AL couldn’t increase its lead as Mummert struck out a batter while Anthony LaForge made another crucial grab of a fly in right. After two quick Dixon strikeouts in the fifth, a fielding error, a walk and an intentional walk of E.J. LaForge loaded the bases for Williams. He stepped up in a big way with a two-RBI single to put PD up 11-10 before Dixon struck out the next batter.
“They walked E.J. to get to Jay and he came up huge to put us in front,” Oates said.
“Jay’s really played well late in the season. Clayton did a good job to keep us in the game when he took over and we made some good defensive plays behind him.”
Shortstop Stockton fielded a groundout to open the AL fifth and Mummert had another strikeout in the tank, but a passed ball tied the score. Macon then connected on the game-winning RBI single to right field.
“Dylan just got back from a mission trip with his church and gave us a big boost,” Wilhoite said.
“This was his best game and we needed it, especially the game-winning hit against a tough pitcher. Hopefully we come out ready to play ball from the first pitch on Wednesday because tonight we waited until the third inning.
“We can battle back, but I’d like to see a complete ballgame. We’re motivated to return to the district tournament and have a better showing.”
“On Wednesday, we’ll need to be more aggressive defensively and pick up our pitching early in the game,” Oates said.

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Posted by on Jun 26 2007. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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