Brooklawn (N.J.) Post 72 manager Dennis Barth says sometimes you need good fortune to win in the American Legion World Series.
On Sunday night, with Post 72’s season on the line in the final pool play game of the 2023 ALWS at Veterans Field at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C., Brooklawn used their good fortune to advance into Monday’s semifinals.
A four-run bottom of the first inning propelled Brooklawn to a 10-4 victory over Florence (S.C.) Post 1 and moves Post 72 into a top four finish in the ALWS for the 13th time.
Brooklawn was coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to Lincoln (Neb.) Post 3 on Saturday that was Post 72’s first shutout loss in the ALWS since 1992.
“Sometimes that happens in baseball,” said Barth, whose team is the all-time leader in overall ALWS appearances with 17. “It was just one of them where we hit some balls hard and their centerfielder made some great plays.
“Today we got some breaks early on and that helps.”
Lincoln (52-11) and Brooklawn (30-6) will represent the Stripes division in the semifinals, with League City (Tex.) Post 554 (25-4) and Cheyenne (Wyo.) Post 6 (67-16) representing the Stars division.
Stars runner-up Cheyenne will meet Stripes champion Lincoln at 4 p.m. in the first semifinal with Stars champion League City meeting Stripes runner-up Brooklawn at 7 p.m. in the second semifinals. Both games will be televised on ESPNU with Monday’s winners advancing to Tuesday’s 7 p.m. ALWS title game that will also be broadcast on the same network.
“We’re going to have fun,” Barth said. “This is what it’s all about. It’s a great experience for the kids. You sometimes have to be lucky to win and the best team doesn’t always win. I just want us to give it our best.”
Damon Suriani's RBI single drove in the first run of the four-run Brooklawn first with Joe Bogart drawing a bases-loaded walk for the second run and Tyler Bunting’s two-run single closing out the scoring in the inning.
Florence pulled within 4-1 in the top of the fourth before Brooklawn answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Suriani (4 hits, 5 RBIs) led the 10-hit Post 72 offense with Sal Serici adding two hits and two RBIs.
Post 72 starter Graham Adams went 4 2/3 innings with 6 strikeouts before being replaced after reaching the 105-pitch count. Reliever Gavin Friel pitched a scoreless final 2 1/3 innings and was credited with the win.
Florence finished its season at 32-6 after losing their first game of pool play, and the tiebreaker for fewest runs allowed as Post 1, Lincoln and Brooklawn all finished pool play with 2-1 records. Lincoln allowed just three runs in three games, Brooklawn allowed nine and Florence allowed 14.
Zach Hunt had three hits, including two doubles and a home run, and three RBIs and Josh Williams had two hits including a double to lead Florence’s seven-hit offense.