Idaho Falls (Idaho) Post 56 kept its bid for an unprecedented third straight American Legion World Series title alive on Monday night with a come-from-behind 5-4 win over Shrewsbury (Mass.) Post 397 at Veterans Field at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C.
The semifinal victory advances the Post 56 Bandits into Tuesday’s 7 p.m. ALWS title game against Troy (Ala.) Post 70; Troy defeated Midland (Mich.) Post 165, 5-3, in its semifinal game earlier on Monday.
Previous back-to-back ALWS winners have been Oakland (Calif.) Post 337 (1949-50), Cincinnati Post 50 (1957-58), West Covina (Calif.) Post 790 (1970-71), Rio Piedras, P.R., (1973-74) and Brooklawn (N.J.) Post 72 (2013-14).
Idaho Falls earned its chance at history after falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning.
Post 56 scored four runs in the bottom of the second, one in the fourth and then survived a late Shrewsbury rally in the top of the seventh to take the victory.
“That last inning was something,” said Idaho Falls coach Ryan Alexander, whose team got the final out with the potential tying run on second base. “You’ve got to give Mass a ton of credit. That battled right up to the last out. That’s why you play this game. That was a heckuva battle and fun game.”
Eliot Jones (double, 1 RBI), Nate Rose (RBI double), Jacob Perez (single) and Conner Hall (single, 1 RBI) led Idaho Falls’ 4-hit offense and starter and winner Deezil Luce went 6 2-3 innings before being replaced after surpassing the pitch-count limit.
Hall drew a bases-loaded hit batter, Jones hit a sacrifice fly, Chandler Robinson a RBI groundout and Rose an RBI double to account for the runs in Post 56’s four-run second inning. And Hall singled and stole second and third before scoring the Bandits’ final run on a throwing error in the fourth.
Luce yielded six hits, three runs (two earned), one walk and one hit batter while striking out six for the victory.
“That kid stepped up tonight,” Alexander said of Luce. “He gave us an opportunity to save our pitching by going deep (into the game). Especially after the first inning and what he faced. He settled in and got into a groove out there.”
It was the sixth one-run victory for Idaho Falls in national competition this season, including all five wins in the Northwest Regional run that advanced it to the 2022 ALWS.
Shrewsbury, which became the first Massachusetts team to advance to the Final Four of the ALWS since 1978, finished with a 30-8 record.
Post 397 scored twice in the first on Alexander Martin’s two-out, two-run single then made it interesting in the top of the seventh off Luce and reliever Jaxon Grimmett.
A one-out error gave Shrewsbury a baserunner, then A.J. Hamm drew a two-out hit by pitch from Grimmett before Zachary Amero’s two-run double to left field cut the Idaho Falls lead to 5-4. But Grimmett got a strikeout to end the game and leave Amero stranded at second base.
Hamm (2 hits), Martin (2 hits, 2 RBIs) and Amero (2-run double) led Shrewsbury’s seven-hit offense.