During Game 13 on Monday, Brooklawn, N.J., Post 72 eliminated Waipahu, Hawaii, from the 2014 American Legion World Series (ALWS) in Shelby, N.C. Both teams remained scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning when returning New Jersey player and the Legion’s 2013 George Rulon Player of the Year, Anthony Harrold, hit an RBI single to put the first run on the scoreboard. New Jersey went on to earn five more runs in the bottom of the fifth and one in the seventh to score a 7-6 victory over Hawaii.
Hawaii scored two runs in the top of the sixth with RBI singles from Jordan Mopus and Cameron Igarashi, and then added a run in the top of the seventh. New Jersey's 6-3 lead shrunk to 7-6 in the top of the eighth to 7-6 after three RBIs, two from Hawaii catcher Kamalu Neal, but it wasn’t enough to capture the win. Hawaii ended the season 25-6 and 2-2 in the pool play.
“Hawaii can hit the ball, and they are really good defensively too; they didn’t have any errors against us. They are a good team,” said New Jersey catcher Tre Todd. “It was definitely in the back of our head that we could lose the game against them, but you just have to take care of the ball and not make errors, and we had to come up big on the plate.
“We have a lot of confidence as a team. Our expectations from the beginning was to make it to the final game. When you have that in your mind, you think you’re unstoppable.”
New Jersey left fielder John Malatesta is looking forward to playing the championship game televised live on ESPNU.
“It’s unbelievable getting to play on actual television,” he said. “This is a whole new experience, and I’m really fired up to see what the championship is like. I can’t wait to play.”
New Jersey improved to 53-7 on the season and 4-0 in ALWS pool play to win the Eastern pool, allowing them to advance to Tuesday’s championship game in hopes of claiming a second consecutive Series title.
During Game 14, New Jersey players anxiously waited to see who they were going to play in the championship game — Midland, Mich., Post 165 or Omaha, Neb., Post 1.
Nebraska started the game off with a run in the first inning and then followed in the third inning with a home run from Jake Meyers, who brought the crowd to its feet. Michigan earned its first run in the top of the fifth off an RBI single from Adam Fitzgibbon, then Steel O’Boyle hit a double and was sent home by Tanner Gross in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 2-2.
Michigan designated hitter Josh Moody hit RBI singles in the top of the seventh and ninth, giving Michigan the lead at 4-2. Nebraksa remained scoreless for five innings until center fielder Alex Nielsen knocked an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to close the gap to 4-3. But Nebraska couldn't add any further to the scoreboard, giving Michigan a 4-3 win and a spot in Tuesday’s championship game.
Michigan improved to 50-7 on the season and 3-1 in the ALWS pool play to become the runner-ups of the Eastern pool. Nebraska ended the season 58-6 and 3-1 in the pool play.
“I think we were a little nervous to start the game off, but we are just happy to be here so we tried to make it as fun as possible,” Moody said. “I think that calmed a lot of nerves down. Now, we are in the championship game and might as well win it all.”
Michigan right fielder Stryker O’Boyle said he and his teammates are not worried about playing undefeated and returning World Series champions New Jersey.
“This win means everything for the team,” O’Boyle said. “We are not nervous competing against Brooklawn (N.J.) tomorrow. We know we can beat them. They beat us by one in the last game (Game 9), so we are ready for them.”
The World Series championship game is set for Tuesday and will be televised live on ESPNU:
Game 15, 7 p.m.: Brooklawn, N.J. vs. Midland, Mich.
Read game highlights here.
And read game coverage by former 82 Airborne Paratrooper, newspaper sports reporter and current American Legion National Baseball Subcommittee member Carl Hennell here.