For the second round of The American Legion World Series (ALWS), the teams endured eliminations, shutouts and comebacks. And the fans enjoyed the exciting game action, as well as the roaring entrance of the American Legion Riders who took to the field before Game 7 to present colors and ride around the warning track.
Attendees also heard from American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong before Game 8 was postponed. Wong discussed the Legion's Operation Comfort Warriors program in front of a crowd of thousands, as amputee Army Sgt. Thomas William Costello of Patterson Springs, N.C., stood alongside him. Sgt. Costello lost his right leg in 2011 while serving in Afghanistan. Proceeds from Sunday's 50/50 raffle at the stadium will be donated to Operation Comfort Warriors.
Game 5: Lakewood, Calif., 4; Milford, Conn., 0
An elimination battle made pitching a priority and Lakewood Post 496 dominated, ending Milford's 30-8 season. The Western regional champs kept Milford scoreless for nine innings, claiming a 4-0 victory and a spot in Sunday's elimination Game 10.
Runs by Lakewood were scored in the first two innings by Kyle Clary, Andrew Mendoza, Manny Jefferson and Kyle Kolb. But Milford held strong on the mound to keep the Western regional champs from running up the score.
Milford's starting pitcher Cody Hadden allowed Lakewood's four runs in the first two innings, but reliever Jacob Saley threw six shutout innings, giving up just three hits. Milford left fielder Sean Cameron and second baseman Ed Michaud delivered the team's three hits.
Lakewood's starting pitcher Andrew Mendoza allowed two hits and four walks over six innings of work, and struck out five. Closing pitcher Anthony Timmons gave up one hit, zero walks and struck out two in three innings of work — sealing a victory for a team that doesn't have any 18-year-olds or graduated seniors on its roster.
"I'm grateful to be here because no one really took us seriously because we are such a young team," Timmons said. "My pitching strategy was to keep the ball low and get ground balls because I'm not one of the more dominant pitchers, so I have to keep my ball off speed and let my defense do the work."
If Timmons finds himself as the closer in Game 10, he is prepared.
"I'm going to keep the ball low, off speed, get a lot of ground balls and not try to overpower anybody."
Lakewood, Calif. (24-7) had seven hits and two errors. Milford, Conn. (30-8) had three hits and one error.
Game 6: Florence, S.C., 10; Moline, Ill., 8
Legion Baseball fans thought they were going to witness back-to-back shutouts Saturday at Keeter Stadium. Florence Post 1 led 10-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, but Moline Post 246 rallied back. The rally began with right fielder Matthew Brill, who earned a double RBI to put Moline on the board and end any chance of a seven-inning 10-run rule.
Trailing 10-2 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Moline gained momentum and showed Florence the game wasn't over. Moline put six more runs on the scoreboard with help from Florence relief pitchers Matthew Brill and Timmy Wages, who walked two batters and hit one when the bases were loaded. But with just a 10-8 deficit, bases loaded and two outs, Florence stepped up the defense and took Jacob Frost out at second after Brill reached on a fielder's choice.
"I thought we were done when we had the 10-run lead," said Florence catcher Trevor Edgerton. "But when I saw Moline making the comeback it got to me a little bit — just getting disheartened out there catching behind home plate. I watched the pitchers make errors and not throw strikes. We talked and said we had to come back and get outs."
Florence catcher Cameron McRae went 2-for-2 with four RBIs, while left fielder Zach Shields, pitcher Akeem Bostick and third baseman Fonta James delivered two RBIs apiece. Florence will compete against Omaha, Neb., in elimination Game 9.
Florence, S.C. (42-5) had 13 hits and two errors. Moline, Ill. (49-8) had nine hits and three errors.
Game 7: New Orleans 8; Omaha, Neb., 7
On Friday morning, nearly 800 Creighton Prep high school students in Omaha cheered as they watched their fellow students defeat Lakewood, Calif., live on ESPN3.com. But New Orleans gave Omaha Post 1 an upset Saturday evening with a five-run comeback to take the win.
Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning it looked like New Orleans wouldn't close the 7-3 gap. But after three Omaha pitchers gave up two runs with bases loaded, the lead shrank to a two-run deficit. Then, second baseman Jonathan Lee hit a three-run double down the left field line to give New Orleans the advantage. Omaha remained scoreless in the top of the ninth, taking its first loss of the ALWS.
"We saw the score, talked within ourselves and knew that we could come back," said New Orleans third baseman Matthew Braud. "When we started getting hits, we just felt the win in the dugout and that last inning showed show how we felt. It's amazing."
Lee went 2-for-5 with 4 RBIs while Omaha's first baseman Taylor Elman went 4-for-4 with a two-run home run and two RBIs.
New Orleans (39-6) had 11 hits and three errors. Omaha, Neb. (50-9) had six hits and two errors.
See photos for all seven games a www.legion.org/baseball/photos .
Click here to watch the live streaming of the Aug. 19 games. All game times are Eastern standard.
10 a.m. (Game 8) – Bellevue, Wash. vs. Brooklawn, N.J.
1 p.m. (Game 9) – Florence, S.C. vs. Omaha, Neb. (elimination game)
5 p.m. (Game 10) – Lakewood, Calif. vs. Bellevue, Wash. (elimination game)
8 p.m. (Game 11) – New Orleans vs. Brooklawn, N.J.