Sunshine greeted American Legion World Series (ALWS) players, coaches and fans for Day 1 of the program Friday morning. The first pitch was thrown out after American Legion officials conducted a dedication ceremony in honor of the four fallen North Carolina National Guard airmen whose C-130 plane crashed July 1 while fighting fires in South Dakota. American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong presented Gold Star banners to the North Carolina National Guard on behalf of the airmen's families.
Game 1: Omaha, Neb., 8; Lakewood, Calif., 4
Omaha Post 1 is the second-best hitting team at the 2012 ALWS, and it showed during the opening game. Omaha was tied 1-1 with Lakewood Post 496 heading into the bottom of the third inning until first baseman Zach Garrett's three-run double keyed a five-run rally and lifted his team to a 6-1 lead. Taylor Elman was strong on the mound, giving up five hits and striking out five batters in seven innings.
"I'm happy with our performance; everybody played well," said Nebraska short stop Jon Hechtner. "Our win was a team effort."
Omaha, Neb. (50-8) had eight hits and four errors; Lakewood, Calif. (23-7) had five hits and five errors.
Game 2: Bellevue, Wash., 11; Moline, Ill., 5
When Bellevue walked onto the field for Game 2, they showed Moline Post 246 their prowess with the bat, taking a 7-1 lead by the bottom of the fourth inning and never looking back. Top hitters were Jimmy Sinatro with four RBIs, followed by Clayton Huber and Mitchell Morimoto.
Even with Bellevue's significant lead, Moline truck back in the sixth inning by putting three runs on the scoreboard. Yet, it wasn't enough to make a comeback – especially after Bellevue left fielder Morimoto slammed a two-run home run, the first of the series.
"It was a good effort put forth today by all of our guys, especially when Mitchell Morimoto got that blast," said Bellevue short stop Matthew Sinatro. "That was a good spark to get our offense going. Our starting pitcher, Matt Lunde, did a good job, and then Jacob Rosen came in and shut the door on them (Moline). This is an awesome experience so far, and I'm excited for tomorrow to play under the lights."
Facing elimination, Moline knows now that it's do or die.
"We are going to look at our pitch selection and try to change a couple of things; we are also going to get our bats going a little bit," said Moline third baseman Tim Wages. "I think if we get those two things down, we should be good."
Bellevue, Wash. (37-13) had 14 hits and two errors. Moline, Ill. (48-8) had six hits and one error.
Game 3: New Orleans, 5; Milford, Conn., 3
New Orleans Post 125 took a three-run lead in the first inning until Milford Post 196 tied the game in the bottom of the second. Each team dropped off the scoreboard thereafter, causing extra innings. The game changer didn't arrive until the top of the 11th, when right fielder Brady Williamson sealed the win with a two-run home run.
"The win is a lot of excitement, but today's only our first day; we still have four more games to win," Williamson said.
New Orleans prides itself on its pitching, and Emerson Gibbs didn't falter. Gibbs had eight strikeouts and gave up six hits in 10 innings. Runs by Milford came from a two-run triple to left field delivered by Christian Baglini, and an RBI single from Taylor Biagioni.
New Orleans (38-6) had nine hits and one error. Milford, Conn. (30-7) had six hits and three errors.
Game 4: Brooklawn, N.J., 9; Florence, S.C., 6
Before Game 4 got under way, the eight regional champion teams lined the bases for the ALWS opening ceremonies. National Commander Wong threw out the first pitch in front of a crowd that was still settling down from the loud firing of a Civil War cannon named "Satan" – which was discovered in a nearby river and refurbished.
Brooklawn Post 72 was sent home in Game 9 of the 2011 ALWS in Shelby after a four-run loss to Las Vegas. But Friday evening the Mid-Atlantic regional champions showed fans that they're not ready to go home early this Series, despite the intense speed that Florence Post 1exhibited.
Brooklawn stayed on the heels of Florence until the top of the eighth inning, when Brooklawn scored twice to take a 7-6 lead. Brooklawn would tack on two more runs to secure the win, thanks in part to the efforts of left fielder Pat Kane, center fielder Steven Wilgus and third baseman Brett Tenuto, who all went 3-5 at the plate.
Florence left fielder Zach Shields helped carry the team with three RBIs, along with two RBIs from Akeem Bostick. It was errors that caused Southeast regional champs to take their first loss of the World Series.
Brooklawn, N.J. (56-3) had 15 hits and two errors. Florence, S.C. (40-6) had 10 hits and three errors.
Click here  to watch the live streaming of the Aug. 18 games. All game times are Eastern standard. ESPN3 is not available in some parts of the country.
9:30 a.m. (Game 5) – Lakewood, Calif. vs. Milford, Conn.
12:30 p.m. (Game 6) – Moline, Ill. vs. Florence, S.C.
5 p.m. (Game 7) – Omaha, Neb. vs. New Orleans
8 p.m. (Game 8) – Bellevue, Wash. vs. Brooklawn, N.J.