Idaho Falls, Idaho, Post 56 set history in 2019 as the first American Legion World Series champion from Idaho.
After winning two games on Monday, Idaho Falls will get another shot at championship history on Tuesday night.
Post 56 defeated Tupelo, Miss., Post 49, 9-3, in Monday's first semifinal game to give it a chance to become the first repeat ALWS champion since 2014 and sixth all-time. The 2020 ALWS was canceled due to the pandemic.
"We got fortunate," said Idaho Falls coach Ryan Alexander, whose team improved to 44-10 overall entering Tuesday's 6:30 p.m. title game against the winner of the other semifinal matching Dubuque County, Iowa against Honolulu, Hawaii. "We took a little gamble to get there but it's paying off for us because we have our guy ready to go tomorrow."
Ace pitcher Merit Jones, who defeated Midland, Mich., 3-2 in Idaho Falls' opener on Thursday, is the probable starter for the title game.
Post 56, nicknamed the Bandits, scored three times in the top of the second inning and never looked back in its win over Stars Division champion Tupelo.
Pitcher Nate Rose made his second straight start for Idaho Falls and tossed a gem; In five innings, Rose yielded two runs, three hits, three walks, two hit batters and struck out five for the victory. Rose was pulled after throwing 26 pitches in Sunday's suspended game against Beverly that became a 13-3, 6-inning Bandits' win earlier on Monday.
The Bandits used aggressive baserunning and two throwing errors in the two-hit second inning rally that gave them the lead for good.
After Ace Webb's leadoff infield single, Chandler Robinson's sacrifice bunt was followed by a walk and two throwing errors on Bradley Thompson's grounder that saw two runners score. Later in the inning, Eliot Jones' two-out RBI single gave Idaho Falls a 3-0 lead.
Idaho Falls added two more runs in the fourth on Kai Howell's two-out, two-run double; Howell is the lone returning player from Post 56's 2019 ALWS championship team.
The Bandits tallied two more times in the fifth on R.J. Woods' RBI single and Rose's sacrifice fly.
Finally, Idaho Falls scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
Rose (two hits, one RBI), Eliot Jones (two hits, one RBI), Howell (two hits, two RBIs) and Ace Webb (two hits) led the Post 56 offense.
Twelve previous teams have advanced to back-to-back ALWS title games, including one team that made back-to-back-to-back appearances.
New Orleans, La., was the first in 1929 and 1930 and finished as runner-up both years. Trenton, N.J., was a back-to-back runner-up in 1945 and 1946, then Oakland, Calif., (1949-50) and Cincinnati, Ohio (1957-58) were back-to-back winners.
Charlotte, N.C. (1964-65) and Tuscaloosa, Ala. (1966-67) were runners-up and champions in their back-to-back title game years.
West Covina, Calif. (1970-71) and Rio Piedras, P.R. (1972-73) were back-to-back winners with the first Rio Piedras title coming when Memphis, Tenn., finished as runner-up in 1972 and 1973.
Boyertown, Pa., was the 1982 champion and 1983 runner-up; Eden Prairie, Minn., the 2010 runner-up and 2011 champion; and Brooklawn, N.J., was 2012 runner-up before winning the 2013 and 2014 championships.
For Tupelo, the loss ended its season at 31-5. Easton Hood (two hits, two RBIs) led Post 49's six-hit offense.