After starting 2022 American Legion World Series pool play with back-to-back losses, Chesapeake (Va.) Post 280 had to deal with even more adversity as its team was limited to 13 players on Sunday after two players left the team to enroll in their respective colleges.
Many might think that would be the recipe for certain disaster in Post 280’s Sunday afternoon ALWS finale.
Instead, it gave Chesapeake’s team a chance to show the resolve that head coach Larry Bowles said has made this summer so special.
And the result, a 6-4 victory over Omaha (Neb.) Post 1 in nine innings, left the team with a cherished lifelong memory according to Bowles.
“I joked with them last night, saying, ‘If we win tomorrow, how many teams in the World Series can say you went out on a win?’” said Bowles, whose team finished with a 20-5 record this season in Post 280’s second ALWS appearance. “So from now on, whenever somebody asks you about the World Series, you get to say, ‘We went out on a win.’”
To do so took overcoming an early rally, surviving a late tying rally from Omaha and getting another extraordinary pitching effort from Brendan Hawley.
Hawley, the starter and winner in Post 280’s state tournament championship game and Mid-Atlantic Regional championship game, came on in relief in the second inning on Sunday with Omaha ahead 3-1 with one out and the bases loaded.
From that point on, Hawley went 7 2-3 innings with five strikeouts while yielding six hits, one walk and one run.
“That was a huge performance by Brendan Hawley,” said Bowles of Hawley, who led Chesapeake to a 2-1 state title win on July 30 and a 12-2 win over Frederick, Md., in the Mid-Atlantic Regional finals on Aug. 7. “That guy is amazing. What he did in the state championship game, the regional championship and then today is mind blowing. He came when we’re down 3-1 and just pitched great.”
Only in the bottom of the seventh, when Omaha knotted the score on Grant Sommers’ two-out RBI single, did Hawley appear to tire.
But he rebounded to retire seven of the last nine batters he faced to secure the win.
Down 3-1, Chesapeake’s offense responded with three runs in the fourth on back-to-back home runs by Nick Valentine and Jake Smith to take a 4-3 lead and took advantage of four Omaha errors in the ninth to take the win.
“I cannot say enough about this group of guys and how special they are to me,” Bowles said. “We were fighting and competing. Just a special, special summer that I’ll never forget. Being here in Shelby and being a part of this (World Series) is amazing.”
Valentine (2 hits, home run, 3 RBIs), Cooper Newell (2 hits) and Spencer Sigmon (2 hits, 1 RBI) led Post 280’s 8-hit offense.
For Omaha (40-13), Coby Hatcher (2 hits), Parker Mooney (2 hits), Jack Thiele (2 hits, 1 RBI), Elliot Peterson (2 hits, 1 RBI) and Sommers (2 hits, 2 RBIs) led its 13-hit offense.