Archive for Post 6 Baseball

SIXERS FALL IN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME OF THE AMERICAN LEGION INDIANA STATE FINALS

State Runners-Up Pic

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – Sometimes, the other team is just better. That was the case for the Kokomo American Legion Post 6 baseball team as it faced a very talented squad from Rockport in the 90th Annual Department of Indiana State Finals. In the state championship game, the Sixers fell to Post 254, the defending state champions, 13-3 at Kokomo Municipal Stadium. It marked the seventh time Post 6 has taken home the state runners-up trophy.

“They are good,” said Kokomo manager Don Andrews while sitting in the press box after the title bout. “They are just good top to bottom and in all parts of the game.”

Rockport earned its ninth state championship and will advance to the Great Lakes Regional in Edwardsville, Illinois, beginning on Aug. 3. Post 254, made up of players from South Spencer High School and the surrounding area, lost its first game of the season before getting its full team together. Since that loss, they have won 27 consecutive games. At the state finals, they dominated the field by outscoring its opposition 48-9 in five games – 33-3 in the last three.

“We have had some awfully good teams here at Rockport,” said head coach Jim Haaff, who is celebrating his 50th year with the program. “We have made it to three American Legion World Series in my time. It is yet to be seen what this group can do. But we are very solid.”

Kokomo starter Austin Weaver, who signed with the Kokomo Jackrabbits after the final game, did not get much help from his defense despite a slow start on the hill. He gave up a single to the leadoff hitter, hit the next batter and yielded another single – but a throwing error allowed one run to score and a sacrifice fly gave Rockport an early 2-0 lead on no earned runs. Post 254 scored two earned runs in the third and broke the game open in the fifth, scoring four unearned runs courtesy of three Sixer errors.

Meanwhile, Rockport starting pitcher Andrew Hayden had the Sixer bats handcuffed with a strong command of the plate and a pitch assortment that kept Kokomo hitters guessing. Austin Pyle recorded Kokomo’s first hit in the fifth inning, Perry McCullum recorded hit number two in the seventh, and S.A. Dunn rounded out the offensive attack with a third hit in the eighth – an RBI single that scored Jarrod Smith who reached on a fielder’s choice. Kokomo scored two runs in the ninth courtesy of a pair of errors.

Hayden threw 8 1/3 innings of three-hit baseball, giving up three runs, no earned runs and – in a surprising stat – he did not record a strikeout. Weaver threw five innings for Kokomo, giving up eight runs of which only two were earned. Spencer Bowlin threw three shutout innings in relief before he got tired in the final stanza.

Andrews, who has a pair of state runners-up finishes and three state finals appearances in his six years at the helm, said he will fondly recall this squad that finished with a 32-8 record and five tournament championships.

“I could talk about how much I love these kids all day,” said Andrews, who is now one game short of 150 victories and carries a .674 winning percentage. “Putting the right group of kids together pays dividends. We win ball games and we have fun.”

Andrews also said the state baseball directors were impressed with Municipal Stadium – it marked the first time Kokomo has hosted a state finals in 20 years. And despite the heat and humidity last weekend, Mother Nature cooperated with no rain. He also thanked all of the volunteers who helped make the tournament a success.

“This year we had a great group of parents; I didn’t have to do anything but coach the team,” said Andrews. “I did work behind the scenes beforehand, but we had plenty of volunteers. And some of the coaches want to have it in Kokomo year after year, although state rules stipulate otherwise (the state finals rotate between north and south locations).”

Andrews, who has five 20-win seasons, said the team will have one last get-together before he begins reloading for another season. After seeing this Rockport team win a pair of state titles, he knows what kind of talent he needs to find in the area to make another run at an elusive state championship.

INDIANA AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL STATE TOURNAMENT RESULTS (AT KOKOMO MUNICIPAL STADIUM)

American Legion Baseball 2

AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL

INDIANA STATE FINALS

At Kokomo Municipal Stadium

 

Participating teams

Floyds Knobs Post 42 (18-5)

Kokomo Post 6 (29-6)

Lafayette Post 11 (24-9)

Muncie Post 19 (15-6)

Newburgh Post 44 (21-7-1)

Plymouth Post 27 (20-12)

Rockport Post 254 (22-1)

Terre Haute Post 346 (22-9)

Note: Rockport is the defending state champ

 

Friday, July 22 (opening round)

1. Rockport def Terre Haute 6-4

2. Lafayette def Floyds Knob 5-3

3. Newburgh def Muncie 7-2

4. Kokomo def Plymouth 7-3

Saturday, July 23 (second round)

5. Terre Haute def Muncie 13-6 (elimination game)

6. Floyds Knobs def Plymouth 14-1 (elimination game)

7. Rockport def Newburgh 9-2

8. Kokomo def Lafayette 8-7

Sunday, July 24 (third round)

9. Newburgh def Floyds Knobs 11-2 (elimination game)

10. Terre Haute def Lafayette 13-5 (elimination game)

11. Rockport def Kokomo 10-0

Monday, July 25 (Final Four)

12. Kokomo def Newburgh 4-2 (elimination game)

13. Rockport def Terre Haute 10-0 (elimination game)

Tuesday, July 26 (championship round)

14. 11 a.m. – Kokomo #6 (32-7) vs Rockport #254 (26-1)

15. Following – if Kokomo wins, second game will be played

DEAN’S LIST: SKIPPER DON ANDREWS HAS POST 6 POISED TO WIN LEGION STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

American Legion Baseball 4

THE DEAN’S LIST WITH DEAN HOCKNEY

July is turning into a great month for baseball in the City of Firsts. Last week, the Prospect League brought the Home Run Derby and 8th Annual All-Star Game to Kokomo Municipal Stadium. And this week, the American Legion will host its annual Indiana Baseball State Finals at the downtown stadium.

This is a special year for the Post 6 baseball team as it will play in the eight-team state finals for the third consecutive season – and this time, they have a real shot at winning the tourney and a berth in the Great Lakes National Regional. The Sixers enter the state finals with a 29-6 record, four regular season tournament titles and last weekend’s Cicero Regional championship.

Under the guidance of sixth-year skipper Don Andrews (146-70), Kokomo has had a solid run, which includes a state runners-up finish two years ago, a fifth place last season and five 20-win seasons. This year, he entered the season with high expectations – so far, so good.

“I hope I am not putting too much pressure on them,” Andrews said before the season. “There are two things about our program: they have fun and they win. Our first goal of the year is to get to the state finals. Even with an automatic bid, we think we would earn our way there. This might be the year – all of the stars are aligned.”

Of Kokomo’s six losses, three came to teams from other states, and only one was at the expense from a team potentially in the state finals field – 12-time Indiana state champion Terre Haute Post 346. Terre Haute defeated Kokomo 11-7 in the third game of the season, but TH will need to win its regional title game which took place after the Sports Journal went to press (they are the favorite).

For local baseball fans, the Legion state finals should be a can’t-miss event at one of the best stadiums in the state. The Sixers open play on Friday at 7:30 p.m., and I highly encourage you to come out to the stadium and support the local squad on their quest for a fourth state championship.

Meanwhile, last week saw some of the best collegiate baseball players come to Kokomo and play in the Prospect League All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. The Derby was exciting as 12 players combined for 158 home runs, with at least two shots bouncing over Apperson Way and into the Memorial Gymnasium South Parking Lot.

Unfortunately, the All-Star Game itself was washed out after four innings, thus making it an unofficial contest. It is also unfortunate that fans did not come out for the game. Thirty-six hours before the game, only 603 tickets had been sold. Unofficially, attendance was 847 – well below the Jackrabbits average of 1,490 per game. Hopefully, the Prospect League – which said they loved coming to Kokomo – will return to Municipal Stadium in the future so the City of Firsts can show its full support in sunny weather.

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.