Midwest City, Okla., "Outlaws" Post 170 defeated Eden Prairie, Minn., 11-6 and 10-1 in a doubleheader Tuesday evening to capture The American Legion World Series championship in Spokane, Wash., at Avista Stadium.
During Game 14, Midwest City's Josh Halbert jumpstarted the Outlaw offense by stealing home to cap a three-run second inning that broke a 1-1 tie in the opener. He then delivered in the seventh inning with a three-run homer to seal an 11-6 win over Eden Prairie, giving the undefeated team its first loss of the tournament and forcing Game 15.
Batting first in Game 15, Midwest City rallied in the opening inning with a two-run home run from Greg Nelson. The Outlaw players followed suit, as they kept swiping bags to keep adding to their lead. Heading into the sixth inning, Midwest City led 5-0 and advanced three more runs as Nelson stole home, while two RBIs were notched by Larry Head and Josh Halbert.
The seventh inning brought three straight outs for Midwest City, but Eden Prairie got on the scoreboard with an RBI from David Belusky. However, that was the one and only point for Eden Prairie, as Midwest City kept rolling.
The Outlaws tackled the eighth inning with two RBIs. Then, in the ninth, they got a lights out performance from closer Dalton Bernardi, who threw three straight strikeouts to put the finishing touches on a 10-1 victory and more importantly, the 2010 American Legion World Series title, which was captured in front of more than 600 fans.
"Winning the Legion World Series has been on my ‘bucket list,'" said Midwest City manager Doug Weese. "We lost our top player, J.T. Realmuto, the last day of regionals when he signed a contract with the Florida Marlins. But those kids said, ‘We are still going to win (the World Series) anyway, coach.' And they did, and I couldn't be more proud of them."
Midwest City showed no fear in both games, stealing 13 bases, including home four times, which helped the team set a record. Midwest City's sweep marked the first time since 1985 in a Legion World Series final that a team out of the loser's bracket won two games on the championship day.
The record-setting performance came as no surprise to the Outlaws, who constantly displayed their desire to bring home the World Series trophy. Inscribed in the sand in front of their dugout was the Outlaws' symbol. The players and coaches eyed it throughout the two games because they never rested on the bench; they were always standing on the dugout steps, cheering. Overall, they prided themselves on being a group of well-mannered young men who were ready to play from the moment they stepped off the plane, dressed in polos and khakis with a token in hand — their gloves.
"We wore the attire as a matter of pride for baseball, respect for the game, and Outlaws are known for being on queue with everything we do," Dakota Andrews said. "We just wanted to come out and show everybody what we are made of."
Before the two World Series championship games, Midwest City (66-10) was second in batting average (.382) and second in defense (.964 fielding percentage). Eden Prairie (39-9) was third in batting average (.346) and first in defense (.980 fielding percentage).
"We pride ourselves on defense, and we didn't have it today," said Eden Prairie manager Scott Hackett. "They (Midwest City) executed and we didn't."
But Eden Prairie did capitalize on defense the first time it played Midwest City on Day 2 of the tournament, defending the lead for nine innings to take a 9-6 win.
"We kind of hit a slow spot against Eden Prairie the first time," said Chris Mullins, Midwest City's starting pitcher in Game 14. "But we knew when we play ‘Outlaw baseball' that it's an easy win for us and that's what we did, and we came through and I couldn't ask for more from this team. And winning the Legion World Series is crazy — I can't even think straight right now."
Once the champions' excitement settled, the award ceremony commenced. Eden Prairie and Midwest City players received medals, trophies and World Series banners. A few notable individual awards were also given.
Eden Prairie shortstop Blake Schmit won the 2010 James Daniel Jr. Sportsmanship Award. After regionals and the World Series, Schmit batted .431 and earned 22 hits and 12 RBIs.
The Most Valuable Player award went to Midwest City right fielder Dalton Bernardi, who ended with a .420 batting average, 21 hits and 15 RBIs.
"It feels good to win the MVP award and the World Series, but I couldn't do it without my teammates - I give all the credit to them," Bernardi said.
All 15 games of The American Legion World Series were aired live on the Legion's Web site. The number of Internet viewers who tuned in soared this year, tripling the online viewership amount from 2009. By the end of Game 15, the Legion World Series had more than 101,000 unique viewers worldwide and 3 million play minutes watched.