For the first time in 55 years, Alabama is home to the American Legion World Series champion.
Troy Post 70 defeated two-time defending ALWS champion Idaho Falls (Idaho) Post 56, 6-5 on Tuesday night at Veterans Field at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C.
Troy joins Tuscaloosa’s 1967 team as the only ALWS champions in Alabama American Legion Baseball history.
“I don’t really know how I feel,” said Troy coach Ross Hixon, whose team was making its first ALWS appearance and finished the season with a 32-6 overall record. “It’ll be something that I’ll always remember and the team will always remember and I’ll rewatch this game when my heart allows it. My heart’s still beating hard right now.”
The win was Troy’s third straight come-from-behind win in the ALWS.
Post 70 trailed League City (Tex.) Post 554, 3-0 after 5 1-2 innings before rallying to win 4-3 on Sunday to advance to Monday’s semifinals. Troy then rallied from a 3-0 deficit after the top of the first to beat Midland (Mich.) Post 165, 5-3 in the semifinals.
But Tuesday’s rally will be remembered most as Post 70 trailed 5-0 after two innings and was down to its final out in the top of the seventh inning before rallying for the victory.
Trailing 5-3 entering the seventh against Idaho Falls starter Merit Jones, Darryl Lee drew a leadoff walk and Brooks Bryan followed with a single. After an out, Merit Jones was relieved after reaching his pitch count limit of 105.
Post 70 greeted the reliever with Shelton Arroryo’s RBI single to close within 5-4 and after another out, Troy scored its last two runs with two outs; Tanner Taylor drove in Bryan with the tying run and Arroryo later scored the eventual winning run on a wild pitch.
“It’s just something where you’ve got to trust your guys,” Hixon said of the late rally. “At the end of the day, it’s about having a gut feeling because you can second-guess yourself a million times. You’ve just got to trust that the guys will get on base and eventually break through.
“That’s eventually what happened.”
Troy still had to endure Idaho Falls’ final inning as the Bandits loaded the bases with one out before Troy reliever and winner Press Jefcoat struck out the last two batters to secure the victory.
“We’ve been on the opposite side of this twice,” said Idaho Falls coach Ryan Alexander, whose team finished 42-11 overall. “And we know that to win this tournament, you have to have some breaks go your way. Tonight, we had one inning of it going our way.
“Give them credit. They did a good job. That’s a good program. They put pressure on you at the plate.”
With its back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2021 — the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020 season — Idaho Falls remains in a six-way tie for teams with consecutive titles.
Bryan, who was named George W. Rulon American Legion Player of the Year after the tournament, had a game-high three hits to lead Troy’s seven-hit offense. Eliot Jones had two hits for Idaho Falls.
Troy starter Reigh Jordan went 3 2-3 innings before Jefcoat finished with five strikeouts and one hit allowed in the final 3 1-3 innings for the win.