Archive for July 19, 2016

REGIONAL CHAMPIONS: KOKOMO POST 6 EARNS BERTH IN LEGION STATE FINALS FOR THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR

Kokomo Post 6 - Cicero Regional champions!

Kokomo Post 6 – Cicero Regional champions!

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

CICERO, Ind. – For the fifth time this season, the Kokomo American Legion Post 6 baseball team celebrated at midfield after collecting a championship trophy. But this one mattered the most after the Sixers defeated Muncie Post 19 6-5 to claim the Cicero Regional championship and a berth in the Indiana State Finals (Muncie also advances with Kokomo hosting state).

After cruising into the championship game with victories over Richmond Post 65 (11-2) and Muncie (19-5) in the four-team field, the Sixers battled Mother Nature and Muncie for the come-from-behind victory. Kokomo struck first with two runs in the bottom of the third inning as Colby Malson ripped a two-run single to score Jarod Smith and Caleb Maddox.

A five-run sixth put Muncie up 5-2 to set up the comeback. In the bottom of the seventh, Maddox sent a shot to the wall for a double, scoring Perry McCullum and Jesse Johnson. Following a pitching change, Tim Blankenberger singled to score Maddox and Will Harris put the Sixers in the lead with an RBI double. With a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the eighth, Kokomo had to wait out a rain delay before Baylee Young could retire Muncie in the ninth to claim the programs third consecutive regional title and 15th overall.

Earlier this season, Kokomo won the Floyds Knob Tournament, the Bristol Invitational Tournament, the Plymouth Patriot Invitational wood bat tourney and the Kokomo Pre-Regional Tournament.

Next up, Kokomo will host the Indiana State Finals at Municipal Stadium from July 22-26. It marks the eighth time the City of Firsts has hosted the finals, but first since 1996. This marks the Sixers 19th state finals appearance and the third time they have made three straight trips (1974-1976 and 1981-1983). Kokomo (29-6) is seeking its fourth state championship and first since 1982. Kokomo’s other regional titles came in 1932, 1935, 1946, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1983, 2001, 2014 and 2015.

 

AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL

INDIANA STATE FINALS

At Kokomo Municipal Stadium

 

Participating teams

Rockport Post 254

Terre Haute Post 346

Muncie Post 19

Newburgh Post 44

Lafayette Post 11

Floyds Knob Post 42

Plymouth Post 27

Kokomo Post 6

 

Friday, July 22 (opening round)

1. 9 a.m. – Rockport vs Terre Haute

2. 12:30 – Lafayette vs Floyds Knob

3. 4:00 – Muncie vs Newburgh

4. 7:30 – Plymouth vs Kokomo

Saturday, July 23 (second round)

5. 9 a.m. – Loser 1 vs Loser 3

6. 12:30 – Loser 2 vs Loser 4

7. 4:00 – Winner 1 vs Winner 3

8. 7:30 – Winner 2 vs Winner 4

Sunday, July 24 (quarterfinals)

9. 12:30 – Winner 6 vs Loser 7

10. 4:00 – Winner 5 vs Loser 8

11. 7:30 – Winner 7 vs Winner 8

Monday, July 25 (semifinals)

12. 3:00 – Winner 9 vs Loser 11

13. 7:00 – Winner 10 vs Winner 11

Tuesday, July 26 (championship round)

14. 11:00 – Winner 12 vs Winner 13

15. Following – if neccessary

THE DEAN’S LIST: GRADING THE KOKOMO JACKRABBITS FIRST HALF OF SEASON TWO

Kokomo Jackrabbits 1

THE DEAN’S LIST WITH DEAN HOCKNEY

It seems hard to believe, but the Kokomo Jackrabbits are now over halfway through the team’s second season in Municipal Stadium. There have been many highs and a few lows, but for the most part, the first half of season two of Prospect League baseball in the City of Firsts has been a hit. Here is a quick letter grade snapshot of the good and bad of the first half of the season.

Kokomo Municipal Stadium (B): Well, the stadium is still not complete, and until then, I cannot give a high score. But, fans love it, as evidenced by the stadium being voted the Best Summer Collegiate Ballpark in America for the second consecutive year.

There are still areas that are incomplete, like the lack of batting cages and a concession stand window that is 20-feet off the ground. But several areas were completed in time for the 2016 Jackrabbits season, like the second concession stand, walkways and clubhouses (although it is strange that there is no field-level door for the players). The new $250,000 video board is outstanding and will only get better as it is programmed with information.

Players (A-): What can be said about the players? How about five Prospect League all-stars for the second consecutive season! And two of those will be starting – Griffin Harms in the outfield and Ryan Hutchinson at third base. The squad came close to locking up a first-half playoff berth, and as of right now, they are in first place in the East Division for the second half. Could a playoff game come to Municipal Stadium next month?

The players are also accessible to fans – especially the young ones. Before each game, Jackrabbit players are on the concourse greeting fans, and after the game they are on the field signing autographs and meeting the community. And from what I can tell, the players and coaches truly enjoy meeting their fans – even after tough losses.

Concessions (B): The lines are now all but gone (last year, they lasted up to 30 minutes) and the food is very good at the Brew City Grill. The hot dogs are the best around, and from what I can tell, the beer and Coca-Cola are flowing at a steady pace. I am still looking forward to the arrival of DiMaggio’s Pizza, though.

Entertainment (B+): From fireworks to giveaways to on-field fun, the entertainment at a Kokomo Jackrabbits game is very good. Jax the Jackrabbit is one of the best mascots around and is great with kids, and the Get Outrageous Crew – led by Jessica Green from Z92.5 – keeps fans engaged between innings. With multiple bobblehead giveaways and interestingly themed home stands (I am stoked for Star Wars and WWE), there is something for everyone at a game.

Mother Nature (A): Thank you Mother Nature – we have not had a rain out and the temperatures have been pretty good through the first 20 home games of 2016.

Organization and coaching (B+): Last year, everyone was talking about the on-field antics of the field manager. But this year, Matt Howard has been a leader on the field – not just in coaching but with the way he carries himself. He has the team winning and there is little to no negative publicity this season. The Jackrabbits did a great job in promoting Howard – and a playoff berth will surely up his grade after the season.

Overall (B): Taking everything into consideration, I will give the first half of the season a B. What the stadium lacks in construction completion the team overcomes with exciting play on the field. While lines may be long at the ticket window (up to 45 minutes long before the last home game), once fans are seated they are quickly entertained by either game play or other activities. From all of the conversations I have had with fans, it is well worth paying a visit to a Jackrabbits game for an entertaining evening of the National Pastime.

Until next time, remember to keep the man and ship in sports – and I’ll see you at the game.

Dean Hockney is the publisher of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana, sports editor of the Kokomo Herald and the public address announcer for IU Kokomo and the Kokomo Jackrabbits. You can follow him on Twitter (@Sports_Journal) for the latest in local sports news and game reports.

KOKOMO MUNICIPAL STADIUM REPEATS AS THE ‘BALLPARK DIGEST’ BEST SUMMER-COLLEGIATE BALLPARK IN AMERICA

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KOKOMO, Ind. – Kokomo Municipal Stadium, home of the Prospect League’s Kokomo Jackrabbits, was once again named best summer-collegiate ballpark Ballparkdigest.com’s Best of the Ballparks competition. Municipal Stadium edged out Athletic Park, home of the Wisconsin Woodchucks, one of the oldest stadiums in the competition.

“This award shows the dedication of our fans and the appreciation they have for a quality venue,” said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight. “Municipal Stadium is quickly reaching iconic status in the community. It is the place to be for Jackrabbits baseball, Kokomo Mantis FC soccer and family fun.”

“We are thrilled to receive this award two years in a row,” said MKE Sports and Entertainment Senior Vice President of Operations Dan Kuenzi. “It shows how much the community supports the stadium and our teams.  The timing of this award couldn’t be better for us. July 12th and 13th the Jackrabbits are hosting the 2016 Prospect League All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. This will allow all fans from surrounding cities to come and experience Ballpark Digest’s number one ballpark.”

Only one other ballpark, TD Bank Ballpark, repeated as a fan favorite in 2016, underscoring how difficult it is to win back-to-back championships.

“Kokomo Jackrabbits fans love their team and love their ballpark,” said Kevin Reichard, Ballpark Digest publisher, who noted that Kokomo has never lost the competition since this is just the second year of the Best of the Ballparks competition. “It’s hard to repeat as a fan favorite, but the vote shows how much the community has embraced the Jackrabbits and loves their ballpark.”

Almost 100,000 fans voted in the Best of the Ballparks 2016 competition. Ballpark Digest readers were asked to select their favorite ballpark in a bracketed tournament over five rounds. In the final round, fans were asked to choose between Kokomo Municipal Stadium and Athletic Park, home of the Northwoods League’s Wisconsin Woodchucks. In a close vote, Kokomo Municipal Stadium won by a narrow 2-percent margin.

Other Indiana ballparks fared well in the Best of the Ballparks competition. Parkview Field, home of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, was voted best ballpark in the Low Single A category. Victory Field, home of the Triple A Indianapolis Indians finished second, losing to Louisville’s Slugger Field. Also in Low Single A, Four Winds Field, home field of the South Bend Cubs, was a final eight finisher.

Ballparkdigest.com is the web’s leading guide to ballparks, the culture of baseball and the business of baseball. Read more about the Best of the Ballparks competition and Kokomo’s win at www.ballparkdigest.com.

Courtesy of the City of Kokomo and Kokomo Jackrabbits