Sunday’s American Legion World Series (ALWS) games in Shelby, N.C., sent four teams home after losses in pool play — Columbia, Tenn., Chico, Calif., Cromwell, Conn., and Jacksonville, Fla.
California and Tennessee squared off on Veterans Field at Keeter Stadium for Game 10 of the tournament - their final of the ALWS as they both entered it mathematically eliminated. Tennessee earned the win, 3-1, ending its World Series pool play 1-2 and its Legion Baseball season with an overall record of 40-11. California finished 0-3 overall and 41-9 on the season.
“This has been an unbelievable ride,” California center fielder Blake Vierra said. “Being able to get here (to the ALWS) with 13 players is pretty amazing and an unbelievable feeling. Unfortunately it’s not how we wanted it to end, but other than that it’s been awesome.”
Tennessee right fielder William Pilkinton echoed Vierra's sentiments.
“They weren’t lying when they said the American Legion World Series would be the experience of a lifetime no matter how we played,” Pilkinton said.
Before Game 11 got underway, veterans were honored on the field for the ALWS Military Appreciation Day. To celebrate the group's service, nearly 20 members of the North Carolina National Guard took the oath of enlistment before the crowd, which was recited by Medal of Honor recipient Bruce Crandall.
All veterans present at the stadium were honored on the field and presented special commemorative ALWS dog tags by members of Shelby Post 82, who also gave baseball caps to the first 600 veterans who visited their membership booth at the stadium. Five parachuters from the Special Forces Association parachute team delivered the Game 11 ball.
Cromwell, Conn., was 0-2 headed into Game 11 and facing elimination unless it could win against Midland, Mich., by eight runs. Connecticut was held scoreless at 2-0, until the top of the seventh inning when Logan Lessard hit an RBI double to tie the game. Josh Zawisa followed with an RBI single to give Connecticut a 3-2 lead, but it wasn’t enough. Michigan came back in the bottom of the ninth with an RBI single by Adam Fitzgibbon to tie things at 3-3 and then Jonathan Hentschel made the game-winning RBI single, giving Michigan the 4-3 win.
“We have a lot of players that this is our last season, and we are trying to make the best of it and hopefully get another title win,” Michigan pitcher Joshua Moody said. “Today was a big win for us, especially after yesterday’s tough loss (against Brooklawn, N.J.). We did it as a team,” Michigan left fielder Robert Ellebracht said. “We started out slow in the beginning of the game, but we came back and got the job done. It feels good to be in the semifinals.”
Michigan is now 2-1 in the Series with a 49-7 mark on the season. Connecticut is 0-3 in the Series and 31-11 overall. With the win against Connecticut, Michigan advances to the semifinals Monday at 7 p.m. in Game 12 as the runner-up of the pool play in the East bracket; Brooklawn, N.J., is the bracket winner.
With a 2-0 record in the Series, Omaha, Neb., and Waipahu, Hawaii, already earned places in the semifinals heading into Game 12 on Sunday. The game was a deciding factor for who would be the winner and runner-up of the West bracket for Monday’s games. Both teams fought to the end, but it was Nebraska that prevailed, 12-8, giving Hawaii its first lost of the tournament. Nebraska is the winner of the pool play bracket; Hawaii is runner-up.
Nebraska is now 3-0 in the Series with a 59-5 record for the season. Hawaii is 2-1 in the Series and 25-5 overall.
New Jersey and Nebraska are the only undefeated teams heading into the semifinals with a 3-0 record.
World Series Day 5 games:
Game 13, 5 p.m.: Brooklawn, N.J., vs. Waipahu, Hawaii
Game 14, 8 p.m.: Omaha, Neb. vs. Midland, Mich.
Watch the games live on ESPN3.com and follow coverage and read game highlights here.