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THE AMERICAN LEGION

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Legion News

ALWS Game 12: Nevada completes the final four

A five-run fifth inning that saw Randolph County (N.C.) Post 45 draw four straight walks with the bases loaded was enough for Randolph County to pick up their first win of the 2018 American Legion World Series.

The 10-6 victory over Las Vegas Post 40 in the early hours of Monday wasn’t enough, however, to extend Randolph County’s season.

Randolph County’s win left them, Las Vegas and Meridian (Idaho) Post 113 all with 1-2 records in the Stars Division at the end of pool play. The first tiebreaker for such a three-way tie is fewest runs allowed, which eliminated Meridian (19 runs allowed) first.

But Randolph County needed to outscore Las Vegas by 11 runs or more to win the tiebreaker in that category. Instead, it will be Las Vegas advancing to the semifinals against Stripes Division winner Gonzales (La.) Post 81.

Randolph County’s big fifth inning started off inauspiciously as the first two batters struck out. But Trevor Marsh hit a two-out double, Austin Curry drew a walk, and Spencer Lanier singled to score Marsh.

Braxton Davis walked to load the bases, then Blake Marsh drew a walk to score Curry to cut Las Vegas’ lead to 6-5. That, and the pitch count limit, ended the night on the mound for Chaison Miklich.

Reliever Zach Czerniawski then walked all three batters he faced to put Randolph County ahead 8-6. Colby Smith came on in relief to get the final out.

Randolph County took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Tristan Marsh scored on as Landon Smith reached on a fielder’s choice.

The game was delayed after one out in the bottom of the first by lightning and rain, with the game finally resuming at 10 p.m.

Las Vegas tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the first. Chaison Miklich singled to drive in Edarian Williams. Las Vegas would load the bases after that but fail to score.

In the bottom of the second, Williams — who had tripled in his first at-bat — doubled to drive in Colby Smith and Jason Sharman to make it 3-1.

Randolph County tied the game 3-3 in the top of the third, when Landon Smith’s double drove in Tristan Marsh and Dawson Painter.

Las Vegas took the lead again in the bottom of the fourth. Williams’ sac fly scored Jordan DeMarce, then Aaron Roberts doubled with two out to score Sharman and Parker Schmidt.

Randolph County added insurance runs in the top of the sixth and seventh.

 

Monday’s semifinal games

Game 13: Midland (Mich.) Post 165 (47-9) vs. Wilmington (Del.) Post 1 (36-4), 4 p.m.

Midland won the Stars Division with a 3-0 record in pool play, outscoring the opposition 15-6. Midland reached the ALWS in 2017 but finished 1-2 and lost a three-way tiebreaker. Post 165 was also the last team from Michigan to win the ALWS, in 2009 in Fargo, N.D. … Wilmington finished second in the Stripes Division with a 2-1 record in pool play, outscoring the opposition 11-8. This Delaware team is the first in the ALWS since 1976 and the first to win a game since 1967. No Delaware team has ever won the ALWS title.

Game 14: Gonzales (La.) Post 81 (44-6) vs. Las Vegas Post 40 (49-16), 7 p.m.

Gonzales won the Stripes Division with a 3-0 record in pool play, outscoring the opposition 9-6. The last team from Louisiana to win the ALWS was New Orleans Post 125 in 2012 in Shelby. … Las Vegas won a tiebreaker to finish second in the Stars Division with a 1-2 record, outscoring the opposition 18-13. Last year’s ALWS champions represented Nevada Post 40 with players from Henderson High School; this year’s squad is made up primarily of players from Desert Oasis High School

 

Follow the American Legion World Series on Twitter, Facebook and use the hashtag #ALWS18. And follow along here. The ALWS mobile app makes it easy to follow game coverage. The app, available through the Apple Store and Google Play, keeps baseball fans connected with game schedules, pairings, scores, video highlights, photos and more.

A grant that will 'make a difference'

Not only did more than $120,000 in American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund donations come in Aug. 19 during the day’s final Legacy Run stop at Tirey J. Ford Post 21 in Independence, Mo. The patients at the Kansas City Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center also benefitted.

Following the Legacy Run donations, American Legion Department of Missouri Zone 2 Vice Commander and Post 21 member Mark Clark announced that the Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors had provided a $5,000 grant to purchase items for the Kansas City VAMC.

The items donated included Nintendo Switch game systems, HD televisions and Blu-ray players, board games, Krups coffee makers and a Victrola 6-in-1 turntable.

“(Operation Comfort Warriors) makes a difference,” said Clark, who also is riding on the Legacy Run. “I promise you the veterans who are going to take advantage of this incredibly gracious gift – because of your hard work and devotion to this cause and this program – you’re going to make a difference in their lives.”

Three other OCW grants will be delivered during the Legacy Run.

Semifinals set for 2018 American Legion World Series

Watch Game 13 and Game 14 of the 2018 American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C., televised live on ESPNU, or online at WatchESPN or the WatchESPN app.

Monday’s semifinal games

4 p.m. Game 13: Midland (Mich.) Post 165 (47-9) vs. Wilmington (Del.) Post 1 (36-4)

Midland won the Stars Division with a 3-0 record in pool play, outscoring the opposition 15-6. Midland reached the ALWS in 2017 but finished 1-2 and lost a three-way tiebreaker. Post 165 was also the last team from Michigan to win the ALWS, in 2009 in Fargo, N.D. Wilmington finished second in the Stripes Division with a 2-1 record in pool play, outscoring the opposition 11-8. This Delaware team is the first in the ALWS since 1976, and the first to win a game since 1967. No Delaware team has ever won the ALWS title.

7 p.m. Game 14: Gonzales (La.) Post 81 (44-6) vs. Las Vegas Post 40 (49-16)

Gonzales won the Stripes Division with a 3-0 record in pool play, outscoring the opposition 9-6. The last team from Louisiana to win the ALWS was New Orleans Post 125 in 2012 in Shelby. Las Vegas won a tiebreaker to finish second in the Stars Division with a 1-2 record, outscoring the opposition 18-13. Last year’s ALWS champions represented Nevada Post 40 with players from Henderson High School; this year’s squad is made up primarily of players from Desert Oasis High School.

Follow the American Legion World Series on Twitter, Facebook and use the hashtag #ALWS18. And follow along here. The ALWS mobile app makes it easy to follow game coverage. The app, available through the Apple Store and Google Play, keeps baseball fans connected with game schedules, pairings, scores, video highlights, photos and more.

VEToga founder practices what he preaches

Justin Blazejewski did not see combat during his five years serving in the Marine Corps but experienced it as a civilian doing contractor work in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

In 2008, amid his time as a contractor, some physical injuries prevented Blazejewski from training for and running marathons.

“I ran a lot to deal with my stress,” he says. “That was my coping mechanism, and that was taken away from me. I was in a really dark place, I was really depressed, suicidal, very angry, agitated, reactive, so all the symptoms that somebody would have with PTSD.”

Not wanting to lose his security clearance, Blazejewski swallowed his feelings and pressed forward as best he could. Things didn’t get any better and Blazejewski was getting desperate.

Desperate enough to try yoga, he says.

“I'm glad that I did because, for the first time in over 10 years at that point, I felt a sense of peace and my parasympathetic nervous system, my rest and relax, finally kick in,” explains Blazejewski, a member of American Legion Post 24 in Alexandria, Va. “I kind of felt that hyper-drive, that hyper-arousal state that we're trained in the military, finally found that it turned off when I did yoga. That was a big turning point in my life, when I found yoga and I realized the power and the benefits of it.”

That eventually led Blazejewski to launch VEToga in May 2015. VEToga is a nonprofit that has certified more than 80 yoga teachers who then return to their communities to lead classes for veterans and their families.

American Legion Magazine recently spoke with Blazejewski about his service, VEToga and how yoga helps relieve PTSD. (For a related story on how American Legion posts are embracing yoga, click here.)

American Legion Magazine: Even though you did not experience military combat, did you, yourself, have PTSD issues?

Blazejewski: When I was in the Marine Corps, I never was in an active combat zone. As a contractor, yes, I was over in Iraq and Afghanistan. I saw a lot of activity when I was there just doing the job as an electrician and communications engineer, building a lot of satellite dishes, building a lot of radios, going out and doing radio operations for military and other organizations that were out there. I was not active duty but I still carried my weapons and performed when I needed to when we were attacked. I saw a lot of combat. I saw a lot of sides of war that most people don't see.

American Legion Magazine: How did you discover yoga as a solution to PTSD? How did you come to the realization that yoga was going to be something worth trying?

Blazejewski: In 2008, my roommate dragged me to a yoga class because she was getting sick of dealing with me and my stress, my anger and depression. Yoga wasn't accepted and big back in 2008 with the military and veteran community so it was kind of looked down as a very effeminate practice and something that we just never explored. When I went and I realized the benefits, I dove in and was practicing five or six days a week. This was in the middle of my TDYs (temporary duty assignments), so I'd go out for two to three months at a time into Iraq or Afghanistan. Then, I'd come home for a few weeks and I would be doing my yoga. Then, when I'd go overseas, I'd be doing my yoga and I would practice teaching the people over there because everybody liked it. It was something that calmed everybody down.

American Legion Magazine: How soon did you realize that yoga was helping you?

Blazejewski: In a typical yoga class, you go in, you sit down, you do some calming breathing and then you chant “ohm,” which is new to a lot of military people. Then, you get up and you do a series of movements for about 45 to 60 minutes. That's the physical yoga they call asana. Then, at the end, there's a pose called corpse pose where you lie on your back, you close your eyes. That's anywhere from five to 10 minutes. The physical part of yoga was great. My first class, I was soaked in sweat. It was a lot harder than I thought it was, so I immediately gave yoga some credit, saying, "This was a pretty good workout." As soon as I laid down and closed my eyes and the teacher was doing a guided relaxation, that's the spark where I felt relaxation and I felt my mind turn off, and all the chatter that was in my head, all the anger, all that stuff that was going on disappeared in that one moment. That was just my first class.

Once you get a taste of that, that sweetness, you know it's something special. I continued immediately and started going back, so I knew at that point, even in the first class, that there was something there. Every day, it was like a drug. I needed more of it because I felt that it was helping me with all my issues that I was dealing with. It was like a medicine, like, "I'm going to go to yoga class every day so I can get one of those medicines at the end of class," which was that relaxation, and get a workout, which I was missing because I couldn't run at the time.

American Legion Magazine: How often are you practicing now?

Blazejewski: Here we are 10 years later, I still practice three to five days a week. I teach one to two days a week. I have a full-time job still as a government contractor. And I run the nonprofit VEToga and it's finding the work-life balance of even being able to do the things I need to do with my yoga practice. I'll practice what I preach because I have a lot of stress in my life with the businesses. Now, I have 80-plus people underneath me through VEToga who are teachers depending on me for guidance.

American Legion Magazine: Let's talk more about VEToga. What motivated you to want to take this practice, which has helped you, and spread it out to others?

Blazejewski: Well, 2004 to 2014 was my war zone travel. Sixty percent to 70 percent of that 10 years, I was physically in a war zone. When I was back in the U.S., I would go do teacher training and I would do yoga retreats and I would teach my classes. I was building up all these certifications. I was doing all these advanced yoga classes, advanced trainings to educate myself so I could teach others to do what I do. I wanted to make sure that I knew as much as I could, especially the yoga for PTSD and the yoga for traumatic brain injuries, which I did a lot. I've done several of those trainings with different organizations.

The whole time, I knew in the back of my head I had the intention of creating something to give back once I stopped the war zone travel. My last war zone trip was December 2014. I promised myself I'd take a year off from everything and just do some self-study, some self-practice, and figure out what this vision was going to be. It was very short into that one year where I was doing therapy once a week, I was doing vision-boarding, I was writing my ideas out, and I was starting to find what VEToga was going to be.

It was clear, right after I stopped the war zone travel, all the fog got out of the way and it was very clear that I was going to share everything that I've learned with other military veterans and their family members. I created that mission statement of sharing yoga, meditation, and healing arts with military veterans and their family members. I started from the mission statement and, to implement it, I started teaching free weekly and monthly classes for military veterans and family members. Initial offering of the nonprofit was to give free classes, to be that light so that others that are out there like I was, living in the darkness, suicidal, people that were dealing with PTSD, drug addiction, the opiates, everything that I've experienced, I saw that this could be a light. It's the one thing that I was good at and that I was going to master and share it.

American Legion Magazine: Tell me about how VEToga went from concept to reality.

Blazejewski: We were doing weekly classes in Alexandria, Va., and Washington, D.C., and getting anywhere from 10 to 25 people weekly, monthly, in these classes, and knowing that was living the mission. We were reaching a small demographic locally. My secondary vision was to take VEToga and create a system, a yoga teacher training. In the yoga world, it's called a 200-hour yoga certification through the Yoga Alliance. I created a yoga school through VEToga. I got the accreditation from Yoga Alliance. In May 2015, we started VEToga and, the following year, we did our first teacher training.

The intention behind that was to create people like myself. We had 18 people in our first teacher training in October 2016. That was a mix between active-duty military, veterans, and family members. We saw that it worked, and, at that moment, it went from myself as one teacher for VEToga to 19 teachers in several states and multiple cities. The goal for VEToga teachers is that they go back to the city that they live in and they start teaching those free classes for military veterans and their family members. They become that beacon of light in their community.

American Legion Magazine: What is your vision for VEToga? What would success look like to you for the non-profit?

Blazejewski: Our immediate goal is to have money to provide these teacher trainings twice a year. That would be about $100,000 a year, just for the two trainings. We've done the trainings for a lot less, so the goal would probably be, in the next year, to get up to a $200,000 to a $250,000 budget for the non-profit to be able to make these trainings zero-cost to the participants.

In the next five years, if we wanted to put a goal on the five-year mark, I would like at least one VEToga instructor in all 50 states.

American Legion Magazine: Anything that we haven't talked about that you want to mention?

Blazejewski: We work with The American Legion on the local level. They have that beautiful space in Alexandria, Va., at Post 24. By them offering the space for us to do this training at zero cost for the veterans, it was a game-changer because that relationship started and changed the lives of 18 people and now more than 80 people who have gone through that facility. Finding organizations like The American Legion and seeing how we can support them is another mission we have and another goal we have.

Legacy Run Day 1: Rain, rain won't go away

It was raining in Hutchinson, Kan., well before the 2018 American Legion Legacy Run left Lysle Rishel Post 68 Aug. 19. And it never stopped. Literally.

During the more than 220 miles that the 230-plus motorcycles traversed from Hutchinson to Independence, Mo., Mother Nature never stopped the waterworks. From a moderate rain to a heavy downpour, The American Legion Riders braving the elements never caught a break.

But that didn’t matter. Not to Legion Riders like Rich Crull, a member of American Legion Post 29 in Washington, Iowa. This is Crull’s third Legacy; one of those was in 2014, when heavy rains followed the ride for the first three days.

That experience led to Crull changing from a Honda Gold Wing to a Spyder three-wheel motorcycle. “I actually sold by Gold Wing after the ’14 (Legacy Run). It scared me that bad,” he said. “(Today) I was fine. I had heated grips wheels and three grips. And it was flat.”

Raising money for The American Legion Legacy Fund – which provides scholarship money for the children of fallen servicemembers and 50-percent or higher disabled veterans – was enough for Crull to brave the rain.

“I just think of the kids,” he said. “You go by cemeteries and you know there’s got to be service men and women in those cemeteries. And there’s got to be kids needing college educations. It’s all about the kids.”

Chief Road Captain Bob Sussan took it easy, keeping the pace slower – in part because of the weather and in part because of multiple first-time Run participants.

“We’ll ride to the road conditions,” Sussan said. “And we have a lot of new riders this year that are untested. We could have rode faster. But it was really bad rain. We could have rode faster, but for the safety of the ride we just couldn’t do it.”

The weather does make a difference in terms of job responsibilities on the ride. Legion Rider Dennis Joynt, who has a life membership with Post 136 in Mulvane, Kan., and is a current member of Post 6 in Cheyenne, Wy., is the Legacy Run’s lead chief tail gunner and safety officer. He’s at the very back of the pack, charged with both ensuring the safety of his fellow Riders and occasionally keeping traffic away from the group, if possible.

“In this kind of weather, where it’s raining, you have to worry about slick roads, debris on the road, oil on the road because of as the road gets wet the oil rises,” Joynt said. There’s a lot of moving parts we have to be concerned about.”

From Shelby to Independence. American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan flew was in Shelby, N.C., for The American Legion World Series but took a flight to Kansas City to meet up with the Legacy Run in Independence. She’ll be the ride until midday Aug. 20 before heading back to Shelby for the ALWS championship game on Tuesday. She’ll then return to the ride.

Rohan took the time to lay a wreath at the nearby Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum before arriving at Post 21. Truman was a 30-year Legionnaire and founding member of Post 21. Then she took time to praise the Riders for their efforts.

“Thank you for being here,” she said. “Everything that you do changes people’s lives. You’re not just changing the lives of those kids you’re raising this money for. You’re changing the life of their families and their grandparents. And when they go off to college and get (their degrees), it’s going to be multiplied over and over and over again.”

‘Excitement and nerves.’ Kris Lueninghoener, an American Legion Auxiliary member and Legion Rider from Post 16 in Norfolk, Va., is taking part in her first Legacy Run. The mother of a Nebraska Army National Guardsmen, Lueninghoener said she is riding in the memory of one of her son’s former National Guard unit members: Spec. Josh Ford, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2006.

“We had a fallen soldier … and I decided to get a bike and support him,” Lueninghoener said. “It’s to support our soldiers.”

Though she’s ridden in large groups before, Lueninghoener said she felt “excitement and nerves, just because of the rain. I do not like rain, but you do what you’ve got to do.”

Hosting Legacy Run ‘a privilege.’ Tirey J. Ford Post 21 in Independence, Mo., provided both a lunch and dinner for the Riders. Post Commander Ed Witthar, a Legion Rider, said his post was honored to host the Day 1 stop.

“There’s other posts they could choose, but they chose ours,” Witthar said. “We’re trying to make what they do as special as we can.”

Witthar has taken part in the annual Rolling Thunder ride to Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day weekend. “I know how expensive these runs are,” he said. “They’re paying for hotel rooms out of their own pocket. They’re paying for the gas out of their pocket. There’s just a lot of expense that they have to incur to do this ride.

“But we’re all doing it for the kids. If we don’t take care of them now, what kind of leadership are we going to have in the future?”

Donations delivered. Unofficially, more than $122,000 was donated to The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund during the stop at Post 21. The Department of Virginia presented $25,000 from its in-state Legacy Run, while the hosts themselves delivered a total of $15,254. Another $10,133 was donated by Post 133’s Legion Family in Millbrook, Ala., while $10,000 apiece was donated by Post 593 in Converse, Texas, and Post 259 in Oneonta, N.Y.

That brings the total so far, counting money collected prior to the Legacy Run, to more than $280,000.

ALWS Game 8: Two days, one big inning help Idaho to victory

One big inning was all Meridian (Idaho) Post 113 needed to get its first win in the 2018 American Legion World Series. It just took a little longer than planned.

A downpour delayed the game between Meridian and Randolph Co. (N.C.) Post 45 on Saturday about two hours and pushed a ceremony honoring women veterans as part of USAA Military Appreciation Day to before the game. Then, in the top of the sixth inning, lightning prompted another delay, and an ensuing downpour forced the game to be postponed until Sunday morning.

Meridian held off Randolph County’s comeback bid to win 6-4.

Meridian struck in the bottom of the first inning when leadoff batter Braxton Mills singled, then scored on Carson Smith’s groundout two batters later.

Meridian increased its lead to 5-0 after a four-run third. Jon Milner singled to score Charlie Tentinger and Blake Jablonski, and Smith hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Mills. Riley Harrison followed with a double to score Milner.

Randolph County’s Tristan Marsh broke up Harrison’s no-hit bid with a leadoff home run in the top of the fourth — the first home run of the Series. The next batter, Dawson Painter, reached on an error, and scored on Bryce Marsh’s single to pull the North Carolina squad within 5-2.

Bryce Marsh singled again in the top of the fifth, this time with two out, to drive in Blake Marsh and pull Randolph County within 5-3.

In the sixth, Trevor Marsh and Austin Curry opened with base hits before the lightning delay and downpour postponed the game. When play resumed Sunday morning, Alex Nielebeck, pitching in relief of Harrison, got three straight outs to get out of the jam.

In the bottom of the inning, Nielebeck grounded into a double play but Harrison scored on the play to make it 6-3.

Randolph County still had a chance, pulling to within 6-4 in the top of the seventh when Bryce Marsh doubled to drive in Tristan Marsh. But after giving up one more hit, Nielebeck got the final out to close out the win.

Pool play in the Stars Division was scheduled to wrap up Sunday night, with Meridian facing Midland (Mich.) Post 165 (2-0) and Randolph County meeting Las Vegas Post 40 (1-1).

Follow the American Legion World Series on Twitter, Facebook and use the hashtag #ALWS18. And follow along here. The ALWS mobile app makes it easy to follow game coverage. The app, available through the Apple Store and Google Play, keeps baseball fans connected with game schedules, pairings, scores, video highlights, photos and more.

ALWS Game 9: Overturned call helps Louisiana advance to semifinals

Even as he collided with teammate Jordan Badame, Gonzales (La.) Post 81 centerfielder Zane Zeppuhar was catching a ball hit deep to left center by Wil Courtney of Dubuque County (Iowa) Post 137.

The problem, as Zeppuhar lay on the field dazed by a shoulder to the jaw, was that was just the second out.

Dubuque County’s Sam Link and T.J. Deardorff scored to tie the game. One problem: Deardorff apparently hadn’t tagged up at second.

Gonzales coach Martin Luquet appealed, the officials ruled Deardorff out, and the Louisiana team held on for a 3-2 victory Sunday in the American Legion World Series at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C.

Gonzales finished pool play with a 3-0 record in the Stripes Division. They’ll face the Stars Division runner-ups in Game 14, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.

“It was a great catch, first,” Luquet said of the controversial play. “One of our bench guys saw that the guy on second had never gone back, so that’s where we got the appeal from. Obviously they saw the same thing.”

Gonzales scored three runs in the top of the first inning despite notching just one hit, Brayden Caskey’s leadoff single. Zeppuhar drew a walk and Jack Merrifield reached on a fielder’s choice to score Caskey, and Zeppuhar later scored on Carson Dabadie’s sac fly. Merrifield scored on a sac fly by Reid Bouchereau to make it 3-0.

But despite opportunities, Gonzales couldn’t add to their lead.

“We made some baserunning mistakes in the next two innings that should have got us three more runs,” Luquet said. “They’re not getting thrown out, but they’re supposed to be moving up, we didn’t execute quite the way we planned it. I think it cost us. And you leave a good team around, eventually they’re going to find an inning and they did, and we were fortunate to get that call.”

Dubuque County (1-2) got on the board in the bottom of the third when Courtney’s sac fly drove in Dylan Gotto. But over the last two innings, the Iowa team managed just one base runner and couldn’t make the comeback.

There was still a chance for Dubuque County to advance despite the loss. They would need Braintree (Mass.) Post 86 to defeat Wilmington (Del.) Post 1 in the next game and score three or more runs in doing so, which would leave all three teams tied at 1-2 but give the tiebreaker to the Iowans based on fewest runs allowed (7 for Dubuque County, 8-plus for Wilmington and 10-plus for Braintree in that scenario).

Follow the American Legion World Series on Twitter, Facebook and use the hashtag #ALWS18. And follow along here. The ALWS mobile app makes it easy to follow game coverage. The app, available through the Apple Store and Google Play, keeps baseball fans connected with game schedules, pairings, scores, video highlights, photos and more.

ALWS Game 10: Delaware holds off Massachusetts to advance to semifinals

The scenario was a simple one for Wilmington (Del.) Post 1—win their final game of pool play and they would advance to the semifinals of the American Legion World Series.

Their matchup Sunday against Braintree (Mass.) Post 86 ended in a bit more dramatic fashion than they may have liked, but the Delaware team held on for a 4-3 victory to keep their season alive.

Wilmington finished pool play with a 2-1 record, second in the Stripes Division to Gonzales (La.) Post 81 (3-0). Wilmington will face the Stars Division winner in Monday’s semifinals; the final pool play games in the Stars Division were scheduled for Sunday night.

Braintree (0-3) was already assured of elimination heading into Game 10, but could have forced a three-way tiebreaker with a victory. Dubuque Co. (Iowa) Post 137 also finished pool play with a 1-2 record; a three-way tie would have gone to the tiebreaker of fewest runs allowed.

For most of Game 10, it didn’t look like that would be a concern. Wilmington took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Jack Dubecq’s sacrifice fly drove in Austin Colmery. Wilmington added two runs in the third with Dubecq’s double scoring Eric Ludman and Dubecq scoring on Matt Poma’s sac fly.

Wilmington went up 4-0 in the fourth when Nate Thomas’ sac fly scored Michael Cautillo. But Braintree answered in the bottom of the inning, with Joseph Vanelli scoring on a single by Nolan Freeman.

The score stayed 4-1 into the seventh. But Braintree wouldn’t go away quietly.

Aiden Carey scored on Jackson Duffy’s fielder’s choice, and Alex Kennedy singled to score Adam Berthelot. But Matt Danz induced a flyout for the final out to clinch the win.

“I think we had a comfort level going into the seventh inning that maybe we shouldn’t have had, we let our guard down a little defensively,” said Wilmington coach Brent Treml. “But I always have faith when Matt Danz is on the mound that he’s going to find a way to battle and make good pitches and limit hard contact. He’s done that for three years for us, he did it today.”

Treml said his team will focus on cleaning up their defense in the time they have before the semifinals.

“A little bit more timely hitting (too); we’re getting guys on but we’ve got to make sure we get the timely hits. Between today and tomorrow, get some swings in, maybe we’ll get some fungo work in. Just enjoy this moment, we’re one of four teams left in the country, just be ready to play tomorrow,” Treml said.

Follow the American Legion World Series on Twitter, Facebook and use the hashtag #ALWS18. And follow along here. The ALWS mobile app makes it easy to follow game coverage. The app, available through the Apple Store and Google Play, keeps baseball fans connected with game schedules, pairings, scores, video highlights, photos and more.

ALWS Game 11: Unbeaten Michigan advances to semifinals

There would be no relying on tiebreaker formulas for Midland (Mich.) Post 165 to ensure they would advance to the semifinals of the American Legion World Series.

Meridian (Idaho) Post 113 took an early lead in Sunday’s final game of pool play, but Midland bounced back for a 5-2 victory at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C.

Midland finished pool play with a 3-0 record in the Stars Division and will face Stripes Division runner-up Wilmington (Del.) Post 1 at 4 p.m. Monday in the ALWS semifinals.

Midland likely would have advanced even with a loss, but the Michigan squad wanted the win.

“You never want to play to not lose, so it’s a tough situation, but we got enough runs, pitching was good, we got a few guys in. That makes a big difference too, knowing that if you can just keep them to a certain amount of runs, you have a good chance of being there,” Midland coach Steve Cronkright said.

Needing a victory and some help, Meridian (1-2 in pool play) struck first. Carson Smith scored on a double by Riley Harrison in the top of the first, one of three hits Meridian notched in the inning.

Meanwhile, Midland had just one hit in the first two innings before opening things up in the bottom of the third.

With two out, Tyler David, Martin Money and Seth Gower hit consecutive singles, with Gower’s hit driving in David to tie the game. Then Brandon Smith doubled to score Money and Gower for a 3-1 lead.

Midland extended the lead to 5-1 in the fifth on Logan LaCourse’s two-run home run, just the second homer so far this year in Shelby.

Meridian would pull within 5-2 when Smith singled to drive in Braxton Mills, but reliever Jeff Allen threw a strikeout and induced a double play to close out the win.

While an undefeated record so far in Shelby is nice, Cronkright conceded it means nothing once the Series goes to single-elimination.

“Yeah, it’s some pressure, but to be honest with you, this is a young team. We don’t have any kids that went to college and come back … it’s a young team. There’s times when we wondered if we were going to win our state, and we were happy to win our state. We were happy to win our regional, you’re damn sure we’re happy to be where we’re at right now!” he said.

Follow the American Legion World Series on Twitter, Facebook and use the hashtag #ALWS18. And follow along here. The ALWS mobile app makes it easy to follow game coverage. The app, available through the Apple Store and Google Play, keeps baseball fans connected with game schedules, pairings, scores, video highlights, photos and more.

Legacy Run hits close to home at opening ceremony

Commander Jeremy Ehart was proud that his own American Legion Lysle Rishel Post 68 in Hutchinson, Kan., is serving as the starting point for the 2018 American Legion Legacy Run.

But it’s also personal for Ehart, a Marine Corps veteran who suffered burns over 64 percent of his body during a 2004 training accident in California that left him facing 36 surgeries and a six-month hospitalization.

Medically retired, Ehart has a son approaching high school graduation. That the Legacy Run raises scholarship money for the children of fallen servicemembers and 50-percent or higher disabled veterans is not lost on Ehart, also an American Legion Rider.

“It’s an honor … for what the ride is, what the ride represents, what these people do, what they go through for the ride,” Ehart said Aug. 16 as his post hosted more than 250 American Legion Riders for a Mexican dinner and opening ceremony. “I think it means a little bit more probably to me personally. My son, he’s a senior this year, so he’ll actually be applying for this (scholarship). So I have a little bit more vested interest.”

Ehart admitted preparing for the influx of American Legion Riders, Legacy Run support staff, state and national American Legion leadership and community members at the post wasn’t an easy task.

“Trying to prepare for 400 people is nuts,” Ehart said. “It’s been months, plural. And things change constantly. But this post has gotten nothing but compliments. It’s worth it.”

In a touching ceremony, Legion Riders also heard from Gold Star mother Amy Allbright, who came to thank The American Legion for its support for military families. Allbright’s daughter, Sgt. Christina Marie Schoenecker of Arlington, Kan., died in February of this year in Baghdad from a non-combat related incident while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Allbright praised the Legion Riders in general and Post 68 specifically for its support of her and her family following Schoenecker’s death.

"I want to take the time to thank everyone for the love and the support you’ve given us in these past months,” Allbright said. “It’s been the hardest tragedy of my life to lose my precious angel. Thank you … for everything that you’ve done, from being with (Schoenecker) 24 hours a day while she was at the funeral home, to being with us as a family. And her service – honoring her in such a beautiful way.

“It is my honor to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you’ve done … and for the money that you’ve raised. It will make a difference in people’s lives.”

Legacy Run Chief Road Captain Bob Sussan said it’s families like that of Schoenecker that motivate The American Legion Riders to do what they do.

“They come for all around the country,” Sussan said. “We do this for the children. This is all volunteer work. (The Legion Riders) do it. They live it. They do it all year. This is the culmination of it.”

Department of Kansas Commander Dan Wiley said his department had its best Legacy Run fundraising effort ever and praised the Riders for being “the face of our organization so often. Channel 4 in Kansas City doesn’t carry the department convention. But if we have an Honor Flight coming home and you’re there, if we have a flag line (at a funeral), that’s what’s on TV.

“We don’t do it for the applause, but it’s important that everyone know what you are.”

Sons of The American Legion National Commander Danny Smith said the Legion Riders truly represent the American Legion Family. “American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of The American Legion – all involved in The American Legion Riders,” he said.

Hutchinson Mayor Steve Dechant also was in attendance and praised Post 68 for its presence in the community, which includes hosting the National Junior College Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament every year since 1949.

“I’m not surprised that Hutchinson was chosen (as the starting site),” Dechant said. “That’s because of the strength and the activity level of this Legion post.”

The ride leaves Hutchinson at 7:30 a.m. Sunday and will travel to Independence, Mo., with various local rides planned for in and around the Independence and Kansas City areas.

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