Shelby’s finest: Nevada’s first American Legion World Series champs
Las Vegas Post 76’s Titans celebrate their victory over Pasco, Wash., Post 34 in the 2008 American Legion World Series championship game.

Shelby’s finest: Nevada’s first American Legion World Series champs

No other Shelby (N.C.) American Legion World Series tournament participant has ever had more than 2008 Las Vegas Post 76's six eventual major league draft picks and five eventual major leaguers on their roster.

The eventual major leaguers were pitchers Donn Roach, Paul Sewald and Tyler Wagner and outfielders Johnny Field and Joey Rickard.

And the other drafted player, pitcher-infielder Jeff Malm, was the most valuable player at the 2008 Shelby ALWS and honored with the George Rulon National Player of the Year award.

Those players helped the team, called the Southern Nevada Titans, win Nevada's first ALWS championship.

Post 76 made 15 regional appearances in a 24-year stretch from 1992 to 2015 that included eight state titles, three regional titles and the 2008 ALWS championship.

The Titans had enjoyed success in the previous two seasons as they won the 2006 Western Regional at Albuquerque, N.M., before going 0-2 in the ALWS at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, then went 2-2 in the 2007 Western Regional at Salt Lake City, Utah.

Earlier in 2008, Post 76's feeder school Bishop Gorman was a nationally-ranked prep power that won its third straight state title.

In the American Legion Baseball season, the Titans finished with a 75-7-1 overall record that remains the most victories for an ALWS title team. And Las Vegas' 10-0 record in national tournament competition made it the seventh (and last) unbeaten team in American Legion Baseball national tournament competition since the regional concept began in 1960.

More importantly to Las Vegas coach Chris Sheff, it gave Nevada the state's first ALWS championship.

The state had begun competing in American Legion Baseball national tournaments in 1928 and didn't advance a team to the ALWS until 1986 when Las Vegas Post 8 made an appearance.

"I would say this is the best achievement our program has had," Sheff told The Las Vegas Sun after winning the championship. "We are talking No. 1 out of 6,000 teams."

Sheff, a Laguna Hills, Calif., native who played at Pepperdine, spent 10 seasons in professional baseball after being a 10th round draft pick of the Florida Marlins in 1992.

Sheff's Titans entered 2008 national tournament competition with an 11-game winning streak and they rolled past Tucson, Ariz., 10-6; Niwot, Colo., 9-2; Honolulu, 14-4; Taylorsville, Utah, 5-4; and Honolulu again, 7-3, to win the regional title.

In the ALWS, Post 76 defeated Omaha, Neb., 7-5; Pasco, Wash., 10-8; Sumter, S.C., 11-9; South Richmond, Va., 6-1; and Pasco, again, 5-1, to win the championship.

Sewald (.459, 11 RBIs) and Scott Dysinger (.444, 10 RBIs) were the top hitters in national competition with Malm batting .300 and recording five saves in his seven appearances.

On the season, Malm hit .577 with 78 RBIs.

After the 2008 season, 10 Titans played college baseball and Malm signed with Southern California before he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays after they selected him in the fifth round of the 2009 draft.

Field, Rickard and pitcher Stephen Mantei, who threw a 5-hitter in the ALWS championship game over Pasco, Wash., played on Arizona's 2010 NCAA College World Series championship team that swept South Carolina in the best-of-three finals.

Roach played at Arizona in 2009 and College of Southern Nevada in 2010 before being a third-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in 2010. He pitched 11 years in professional baseball and made the major leagues for the San Diego Padres (2014), Chicago Cubs (2015) and Seattle Mariners (2016).

Scott Dysinger and Erik Van Meetren played at UNLV, Jerry Mitchell at Creighton, Sewald at the University of San Diego, Wagner at Utah and Neil Lawhorn played for three colleges.

Malm advanced to Class AA with the Rays organization as a first baseman-outfielder and Class AA with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as a pitcher before leaving baseball after the 2018 season.

Field was a fifth-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013 who has played in the major leagues for Tampa and the Minnesota Twins in the 2018 season. He began the 2021 season on the roster of the independent league Kansas City Monarchs.

Rickard was a ninth-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012 who has played in the major leagues for the Baltimore Orioles (2016-19) and San Francisco Giants (2019-20).

Sewald was a 10th-round pick of the New York Mets in 2012 who has played in the major leagues for the Mets (2017-20) and began the 2021 season with the Seattle Mariners' organization.

And Wagner was a fourth-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012 who played in the major leagues for the Brewers (2015) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (2016) before leaving baseball after the 2018 season.

American Legion Baseball

American Legion Baseball

American Legion Baseball enjoys a reputation as one of the most successful and tradition-rich amateur athletic leagues. Today, the program registers more than 5,400 teams in all 50 states, including Canada and Puerto Rico.

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