When Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72 and Midland, Mich., Post 165 players took the field Tuesday evening for the 88th American Legion World Series (ALWS) championship game, they each received a special good luck handshake from famed NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The tone for the championship game was set shortly after that in the first inning.
Michigan was held scoreless in the top of the first while New Jersey earned four quick runs in its side - off home plate steals by Adam Fitzgibbon and Pete Farlow and a two-run RBI single from Tre Todd.
From that point on, the runs didn't stop pouring in for New Jersey, which won last year's ALWS in similar fashion when it enacted the 10-run mercy rule over Petaluma, Calif.
By the top of the seventh, New Jersey had an 18-0 lead over Michigan and that game was called, giving the Mid-Atlantic Regional winners their second consecutive ALWS win and their fourth overall title. It was Brooklawn’s 15th ALWS appearance and the first time in 40 years a World Series team has won a back-to-back championship title.
“We came out with four runs, got our nerves out, and it was a smooth run the rest of the way. It was exhilarating,” New Jersey pitcher Tyler Mondile said. “Taking the win again is awesome.”
Steven Mondile agreed with his brother Tyler about the win, saying, “The second win feels better than the first. My pop past away early in the year, so I’m just happy that we could win the World Series for him. It meant a lot.”
New Jersey improved to 54-7 on the season and 5-0 in the ALWS pool play. Michigan ended the season 50-8 and 3-2 in the pool play.
“We got here to the World Series and won. There’s no better feeling in the world,” New Jersey right fielder Fran Kinsey said.
And in familiar fashion, the ALWS paid attendance record was broken. Total paid attendance for the 2014 Series was 110,036, eclipsing the 2013 record of 104,726. The championship game had a total paid attendance of nearly 8,000, which is a single-game record.
Following the championship game, several players from New Jersey and other Series teams were presented Legion Baseball awards. The recipients were:
George W. Rulon Player of the Year – Sean Breen of Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72
“I am so thankful for this award,” Breen said. “This is really exciting to win the World Series and then be named the Player of the Year; pretty rewarding.”
Rawlings Big Stick Award – Anthony Harrold from Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72; Sean Breen from Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72; and Kyle Pausche from Jacksonville, Fla., Post 88.
Louisville Slugger Batting Champion – Sean Breen from Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72, compiled a .579 batting average.
Dr. Irvin L. "Click" Cowger RBI Memorial Award – Jordan Mopas from Waipahu, Hawaii, had 13 RBIs.
Bob Feller Pitching Award – Jake Meyers of Omaha, Neb., Post 1, compiled 29 strikeouts in regionals and World Series tournaments.
James F. Daniel Jr. Memorial Sportsmanship Award – Tanner Gross of Midland, Mich., Post 165.