Brackets have been set for the 2022 American Legion Baseball Great Lakes Regional at Northwood University in Midland, Mich. Indiana champion Muncie Post 19 is scheduled to play its first game against Gladwin City (Mich.) Post 171 in Game 3 at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 3. Muncie will play again in the double-elimination event on Thursday, Aug. 4 at either 4 p.m. (Wednesday win) or 9:30 a.m. (Wednesday loss). The regional continues through Sunday, Aug. 7. The American Legion World Series is slated for Aug. 11-16 in Shelby, N.C. Muncie (19-11) earned the right to compete at regional by beating Terre Haute Post 346 by a 4-0 score Saturday, July 30 in Kokomo for the Indiana American Legion Senior Baseball State Championship. Jacob Pruitt tossed a no-hitter as the Kevn Zvokel-managed Chiefs won their first state title since 2008. Muncie went 4-1 in the tournament began in Rockport and concluded in Muncie.
AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL GREAT LAKES REGIONAL (At Midland, Mich.) Wednesday, Aug. 3 Game 1: Moline (Ill.) Post 256 vs. Eau Claire (Wis.), 9:30 a.m. Game 2: Aviston (Ill.) 1239 vs. Manitowoc (Wis.) Post 88, 12:30 p.m. Game 3: Muncie (Ind.) Post 19 vs. Gladwin City (Mich.) Post 171, 4 p.m. Game 4: Cincinnati (Ohio) Post 199 vs. Midland (Mich.) Post 165, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4 Game 5: Game 1 loser vs. Game 3 loser, 9:30 a.m. Game 6: Game 2 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 12:30 p.m. Game 7: Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 4 p.m. Game 8: Game 2 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5 Game 9: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 11 a.m. Game 10: Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 4 p.m. Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6 Game 12: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 4 p.m. Game 13: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7 Game 14: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 1 p.m. (Championship). Game 15: If necessary, 4 p.m.
Right-hander Jacob Pruitt pitched a no-hitter Saturday, July 30 to help Muncie Post 19 defeat Terre Haute Post 346 by a 4-0 score in the championship of the 2022 Indiana American Legion Senior Baseball State Finals. Pruitt threw 100 pitches with 11 strikeouts and two walks to helped the Post 19 Chiefs win the program’s first senior baseball state crown since 2008. “My catcher Luke Willmann called a great game today,” said Pruitt. “He knew exactly what he wanted to me to throw and I was able to execute.” Pruitt, a 2022 Yorktown High School graduate and Indiana State University recruit as well as an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series participant, mixed his four- and two-seam fastball and his breaking pitches to best Terre Haute for the second time during the State Finals. The first time was not at Kokomo’s CFD Stadium at Highland Park. The tournament began in Rockport Friday, July 22 and was moved to Kokomo because of excessive rain on what would have been the final day Tuesday, July 25. This also allowed all pitchers to be eligible under American Legion pitch count rest rules. Muncie Post 19, Terre Haute Post 346 and Kokomo Post 6 came into Saturday’s action with 3-1 tourney records. “I learned what their hitters are capable of doing,” said Pruitt of the July 22 game against Terre Haute. “They’re a very good team, obviously. But I was able to find some weaknesses in the off-speed where I could exploit. “It the curveball the last time. It was the slider today. I was able to mix it up.” Post 346 manager David Will explained why he thought Pruitt was so effective. “He throws a 92 mph fastball and he’s got a slider that’s only five or six miles an hour slower,” said Will. “It looks like a fastball coming to the kids so they’re right out front and it makes them look silly. “He’s a good pitcher.” Post 19 Chiefs manager Ken Zvokel had Jerad Michael (who had two saves earlier in the State Finals) ready to go if Pruitt faltered. But that did not happen. “(Pruitt) was on fire,” said Kvokel. He got it in his head that he was going to win this game and wasn’t going to give the ball up.” With the championship, Muncie (19-11) advances to the Great Lakes Regional (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin) Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 3-7 in Midland, Mich. The American Legion World Series is slated for Aug. 11-16 in Shelby, N.C. “We were fired up,” said Zvokel of his team. “We’ve had a good roll here the last couple of weeks. We play good ball all the way — top to bottom. Every guy on the bench is ready to go.” Terre Haute (25-8-1) was seeking its 15th overall state title and first since 2019. Post 346 topped Kokomo Post 6 by a 5-1 count in Saturday’s first game. Muncie went up 4-0 with two runs in the fourth. Hayden Carrow smacked a lead-off single and Isaac Jackson followed with a double. Carrow scored on an error and Jackson later came home Cooper Roach’s sacrifice fly. Post 19 tallied a pair of two-out runs in the bottom of the third for a 2-0 lead. Quinn Faulkner led off with a walk and Michael reached on a sacrifice and an error. A double by Willmann drove in Faulkner and Michael. Right-hander Derek Lebron, a Rend Lake College recruit, pitched a complete game for Terre Haute. He allowed six hits while striking out five and walking two
Semifinal Terre Haute Post 346 5, Kokomo Post 6 1 Right-hander Cade Moore threw 100 pitches and went the distance as the winner for Post 346. The right-hander who graduated from Terre Haute North Vigo High School in 2021 and was at Kentucky Wesleyan College in the spring scattered six hits, struck out five and walked none. “Cade pitched really well,” said Will. “He was pounding the zone. He gave them some fits. On top of that we made some great plays in the infield that really helped him.” Terre Haute took its lead up to 5-1 with one run in the top of the sixth inning. Logan Nicoson singled and later crossed the plate on an infield hit by Tyler Will. Kokomo right fielder Jacob Ward caught a fly and threw out a runner at the plate for the first two outs. Post 6 cut the gap to 4-1 with one run in the bottom of the fourth. Will McKinzie produced a lead-off single and later scored on Conner Boone’s sacrifice fly. McKinzie moved to second base on an error and third base on Levi Mavrick’s single. Post 346 pushed its advantage to 4-0 with a solo home run by Pierson Barnes in the top of the fourth. With one out, Barnes belted the first pitch he saw over the tall fence in right field. Terre Haute took a 3-0 lead with two runs in the top of the third. Ty Stultz drew a walk against Kokomo right-handed starter Owen Taylor. With one out, Moore doubled off Post 6 righty reliever Mavrick, who tossed the last five innings and gave up 10 hits with one strikeout and two walks. An error on the play allowed Stultz and score. A single by Bryson Carpenter plated Moore from second base. Post 346 scored one run in the top of the first. Lead-off man Caden Mason walked and later scored on a wild pitch. He was advanced to second base by Moore’s sacrifice bunt and third base Carpenter’s fly-out. Kokomo, which was seeking its first state crown since 1982, finished 2022 season at 23-10-2. Because of a positive COVID-19 test, Post 6 was without 2022 Logansport High School graduate and Indiana University Kokomo commit Gavin Smith. He was selected as the A.D. Phillips Sportsmanship Award winner. The five other participants in the 2022 State Finals were Newburgh Post 44, Jasper Post 147, South Bend Post 151, South Haven Post 502 and Rockport Post 254.
INDIANA AMERICAN LEGION SENIOR STATE FINALS (2022) At Rockport Friday, July 22 Newburgh 7, Jasper 3 Muncie 2, Terre Haute 1 Kokomo 4, South Bend 1 Rockport 5, South Haven 4 Saturday, July 23 Jasper 10, South Bend 7 Terre Haute 7, South Haven 0 (forfeit) Kokomo 10, Newburgh 4 Muncie 4, Rockport 3 Sunday, July 24 Terre Haute 4, Newburgh 3 Rockport 11, Jasper 0 (5 inn.) Muncie 10, Kokomo 0 (5 inn.) Monday, July 25 Kokomo 3, Rockport 2 Terre Haute 15, Muncie 3 At Kokomo Saturday, July 30 Terre Haute 5, Kokomo 1 (semifinal) Muncie 4, Terre Haute 0 (championship)
Rockport Post 254 will host the 2022 rendition of the Indiana American Legion Senior Baseball State Finals. The eight-team event is slated for Friday through Tuesday, July 22-26 at Jim Haaff Field in Rockport. The champion will advance to Great Lakes Regional (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin) Aug. 3-7 in Midland, Mich. The American Legion World Series is slated for Aug. 11-16 in Shelby, N.C. Post 254 won the 2021 title in Kokomo. It was Rockport’s 11th state crown. Region 7 host Rockport is managed by Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jim Haaff. His assistants are Josh Garrett, Bill Hesson, Jason Scamahorn and Jesse Smith. The general manager is Darrell Stephens. Jasper is Region 7 champion. Terry Gobert is the Post 147 manager/GM. He is assisted by Brian Kirchoff. Newburgh is Region 6 champion. Joe Paulin is the Post 44 manager/GM. He is assisted by Matt Brunton, Ryan Shelton, Mike Sharp, Chris Pillow and Dr. David Schultz. Terre Haute is Region 5 champion. David Will is Post 346 manager/GM. His assistants are Jayson Cottrell and Travis Mason. Muncie is Region 4 champion. Ken Zvokel is Post 19 manager/GM. Kokomo is Region 3 champion. Don Andrews is Post 6 manager/GM. His assistants are Jason Turlock, Nathan Kirk, Tristan Kivett and Eric Mills. South Bend is Region 2 champion. Tony Cruz is coach/GM. His assistant at Nevaeh Ortiz-Cruz and Ben Monges. South Haven is Region 1 runner-up. Bobby Wineland is manager and John Tabor assistant manager. Assistants are Jose Guevara, John Jenkins and Preston Tabor. Owen Wells is the Indiana state commander for baseball. Here are the double-elimination tournament brackets (all times are Central) and rosters:
INDIANA AMERICAN LEGION SENIOR STATE FINALS At Rockport Friday, July 22 Game 1: Newburgh Post 44 (12-10) vs. Jasper Post 147 (12-2-1), 11 a.m. Game 2: Muncie Post 19 (15-10) vs. Terre Haute Post 346 (21-6-1), 2 p.m. Game 3: South Bend Post 151 (12-4) vs. Kokomo Post 6 (20-8-2), 4:30 p.m. Game 4: South Haven Post 502 (12-12-1) vs. Rockport Post 254 (16-5), 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23 Game 5: Game 1 loser vs. Game 3 loser, 11 a.m. Game 6: Game 2 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 2 p.m. Game 7: Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 4:30 p.m. Game 8: Game 2 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 24 Game 9: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 1 p.m. Game 10: Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 3:30 p.m. Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 6 p.m. Monday, July 25 Game 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 1 p.m. Game 13: Game 10 winner vs. Game 11 winner, 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jul 26 Game 14: Game 12 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 1 p.m. (championship). Game 15: If necessary game, followed Game 14.
Rosters Newburgh Post 44 0 Zach York 7 Brandon Juarez 8 Joe Pillow 11 Keaton Kern 12 Reece Harper 13 Connor Specht 15 Collin Scaggs 17 Hunter Lindsey 21 David Schultz 24 Carter Hood 26 Kolton Watson 27 Oliver Clark 29 Adam Watson 35 Brayden Gibson 55 Adam Sanabria 99 Kai Radke
Jasper Post 147 1 Max Werner 2 Thomas Habig 3 Ryan Leuck 4 Kody Morton 5 Ben Henke 6 Hunter Stork 7 Eli Hopf 8 Reece Egbert 9 Sam Helming 10 Andrew Noblitt 11 Drew Bradley 12 Mitchell Leinenbach 13 Braxton Brosmer 16 Chris Hedinger 19 Matthew Wright 20 Andrew Sternberg 25 Will Wallace 28 Griffith Hile
Muncie Post 19 2/2 Cooper Roach 3/21 Cade Brinson 4/12 Chase Smith 5/23 Isaac Jackson 6/6 Gavin Noble 7/33 Mac King 9/9 Austin Jones 10/10 Bryce Adams 12/5 Alex King 14/34 Will Anderson 15/18 Jerad Michael 21/38 Jacob Pruitt 22/4 Luke Willmann 23/8 Quinn Faulkner 33/11 Kess McBride 34/14 Crosby Heniser 55/24 Hayden Carrow
Terre Haute Post 346 1 Tyler Will 2 Bryson Carpenter 3 Ty Stultz 4 Noah Bray 5 Caden Mason 6 Coy Edwards 7 Tucker Helton 8 Logan Nicoson 9 Ross Olsen 10 Sam Glotzbach 11 Cade Moore 12 Pierson Barnes 15 Kylan Norman 19 Jackson McFarland 20 Derek Lebron
South Bend Post 151 2 Joseph Curylo 3 Anthony Burkowski 6 Samuel Mischak 8 Austin Love 10 Trace Gilbert 11 Dylan Hanley 14 Nathan Marshman 18 Michael Compton 19 Francesco Lizzi 21 Pike Temple 22 Julius Bagarus 23 Erick Marin 24 Kellen Demkovich 25 Henry Singer 27 Peyton Ring 32 Payton Jones 33 David Szajko 74 Christopher Gault
Kokomo Post 6 1 Jacob Ward 2 Jon Maloy 3 Cooper Hansen 4 Kaine Fowler 5 Cayden Calloway 6 Will McKinzie 9 Jake Seuferer 10 Levi Mavrick 11 Ashton Sexton 12 Avery Fields 15 Conner Boone 16 Troy Smith 18 Larry Hamilton 33 John Scottg 34 Brandon Smitley 35 Preston Sanford 36 Gavin Smith 44 Owen Taylor
South Haven Post 502 1 Kyle Feterick 3 Jacob Jenkins 7 James Haltz 9 Adam Allis 13 Caleb Johnson 14 Kyle Janda 15 Mark Fausto 16 Ivan Balboa 19 Jacob Gonzalez 20 Dylan Stuphan 22 Caleb Short 27 Evan Szabo 29 Nathan Lambert 31 Ryan Graziano 34 Aidan McCormick 35 Payton Fausto 52 Noah Scott 54 Kaden Sroka
Rockport Post 254 10 Garrett Scamahorn 11 Jalen Johnson 12 Jake Stuteville 14 Noah Brunner 15 Diond’re Jacob 16 Ty Brown 18 Houston Compton 19 Ty Kalb 20 Trey Mattingly 21 Holton Compton 24 Ashton Tindle 27 Jackson Raaf 31 Evan Bowling 32 Ryan Ogle 33 Wes Scamahorn
Jeff Enright sees baseball as more than just physical. There’s what goes on between the ears, too. “Baseball is kind of a unique sport,” says Enright, the head coach at Wheeler (Ind.) High School since the summer of 2019. “There’s so much thought that goes into every position and every pitch. “There’s the mental approach and how to overcome short-term adversity.” Players will face a bad call by the umpire or have a sure hit robbed by a great catch, but they must move forward or it becomes a negative. “That’s what I enjoy most about coaching baseball,” says Enright. “You try to put them in healthy stressful situations as much as you can during the off-season. “You make them uncomfortable and failing and then you build them back up.” Enright equates mental training with mental health. “These kids are 14 to 18,” says Enright. “They are still growing emotionally. Their highs are too high and lows too low.” The coach goes for even-keel. “We say you’re never as bad or as good as you think you are,” says Enright. “We talk about it all the time.” For every four practices on the baseball field, the Bearcats are in the class room going over the last few practices or games. Enright likes to do this debriefing on a rainy day. Wheeling won the program’s sixth sectional title in 2021. While right-handed pitcher Rex Stills (9-1, 1.37 earned run average, 100 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings) and infielder Sean Conroy have moved on — Stills to Purdue Fort Wayne and Conroy to Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, Calif. Returnees for 2022 include senior outfielder Nehemiah Parrish, senior catcher/outfielder Dylan Passauer, senior corner infielder/right-hander Kole Hutcheson, junior shortstop Kris Kingery, junior right-hander/outifleder Mason Leckrone, sophomore utility man Mark Johnson, sophomore right-hander Lucas McNamara and sophomore third baseman/designated hitter Jackson Smith. Parrish, who plans to enter the U.S. Marines after graduation, hit .414 with 30 runs batted in and 17 stolen bases in 2021. Passauer has committed to the University of Northwestern Ohio. Kingery is expected to be the Bearcats’ lead-off hitter. Leckrone and Hutcheson are likely the team’s top two starting pitchers. Johnson (.317, 13 RBI) and Smith (.355, 19 RBI) are coming off solid offensive seasons. Of the 21 players in the program, most are juniors and sophomores. “For a (Class) 2A school we’re pretty deep this year,” says Enright. Wheeler (enrollment around 450) is a member of the Greater South Shore Conference (with baseball members Calumet New Tech, Griffith, Hammond Bishop Noll, Hanover Central, Illiana Christian, Lake Station Edison, River Forest and Whiting). With the addition of Illiana Christian, the conference is broken into divisions with teams playing two games with their division and one against squads in the other division. Wheeler is paired with Calumet New Tech, Lake Station Edision, River Forest and Whiting. The Bearcats do not have a conference JV schedule but has scheduled JV games on days when the varsity does not play. “I want to get the young guys some reps,” says Enright. Wheeler is part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Bowman Academy, Hammond Bishop Noll, Illiana Christian, Lake Station Edison and Whiting (host). Enright’s varsity assistant is Joe Kennedy, who was a player for Enright at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago. Enright was an assistant for the 2013 Class 4A Illinois state champions. JV coaches are Union Township Middle School teacher Sean Cunningham and Alex Hutman (Wheeler Class of 2021). Wheeler is due to get new baseball and softball fields with turf. First up is the turfing of the football field. The diamonds will be located on the other end of the property from their current locations. “It may not be pure baseball in the traditional sense, but as soon as it stops raining you can play,” says Enright of playing on turf. “In our area of the country it’s tough to get a baseball season in in the spring.” Wheeler is small incorporated Valparaiso community. The feeder system for the baseball program include Union Township Little League (T-ball through Senior League for middle schoolers). Enright estimates that around 75 percent of players are with travel organizations, including Triple Crown Valparaiso, 5 Star Great Lakes Chiefs and Cangelosi Sparks (Lockport, Ill.). Some also play American Legion ball for Post 502 Blaze coached by Bob Wineland. An alum of Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Ill. (1995), Enright with a double major in History and Political Science from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1999. He went to Chicago-Kent College of Law and practiced product liability law at Schiff Hardin LLC in Chicago. It was while clerking for a judge during law school that he got the idea that he might one day want to go into education. He teaches History and U.S. Government at Wheeler. Before landing with the Bearcats, Enright was head coach at Calumet Tech. The 11 years prior to that was spent at Mount Carmel. He moved up from freshmen coach to sophomore coach and varsity assistant while working with Caravan head coach Brian Hurry. “I learned most about coaching from him,” says Enright of Hurry. “The biggest thing was how to have a personal relationship with each kid to try to maximize their potential.” A member of the Chicago Catholic League, Mount Carmel players are recruited while in middle school. “We get to know them in sixth and seventh grade as you’re trying to entice them to come to your school,” says Enright. “You hope you know how they tick.” During his time at Mount Carmel, the baseball community rallied over a series of tragedies. Complications of a heart defect took Steven “Stevie” M. Bajenski in 2009 (the first Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Baseball Tournament was played in 2012). The Caravan also lost a coach to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and another player passed on July 4. “It brought everybody closer together,” says Enright. “Everybody was reeling.” Jeff and wife Kerry have three children in the Union Township School Corporation — junior Emily (16), eighth grader Sarah (14) and sixth grader Jack (11).
Henryville (Ind.) Junior/Senior High School’s uniforms say “Hornets.” But first-year head baseball coach and alum Cody Reister wants “guys that have the dog in them.” “We want to be tough defensively and on the base paths — someone that executes all the time,” says Reister (Class of 2013). “That’s our focus. Everyone can hit to some extent, but not everyone can do the little things well.” Reister played for and coached with Jeff Schroeder who led the Henryville for 27 seasons. As a student and player at Hanover (Ind.) College — where pitched for Panthers coach Shayne Stock (the 6-foot-3 right-hander was 6-1 out of the bullpen as a senior) — Reister would help out Schroeder’s Henyrville teams when he could. Reister was born in Jeffersonville, Ind., and moved from Salem, Ind., to Henryville in second grade. He played American Legion baseball for Doc Boyd’s Scottsburg Post 234 team and later Ricky Romans’ Floyds Knobs Post 42 squad. After graduating HC in 2017 with a History degree, Reister came home and became a middle school science teacher and to coach in the boys basketball and baseball programs. As Henryville approaches the start of official practice March 14, Reister sees six or seven players with mound potential. During conditioning, his players have been throwing footballs to build up arm strength. A year ago, Reister worked almost exclusively with pitchers and catchers. “We threw a ton of fastballs and change-ups,” says Reister. “It’s just as effective as anything if you can do it correctly.” The competitor in Reister would not have been receptive to the pitch count rule (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days) when he played. But the coach in him understands. “It puts you in-tune with development and what you’re guys can do,” says Reister. “I understand the reasoning for it.” Reister, who is assisted by Henrville classmate Bailey Hall as well as Tim Hawkins, expects have have 12 or 13 players in 2022. “We’re pretty light this year,” says Reister. “We have a bunch of kids in middle school. Hopefully we get them to continue on (with baseball).” As a feeder system, there is Henryville Youth Sports (wee-ball to 12U) and Henryville Elite (a teams for Grades 6-8 not affiliated with the school that plays in the spring and summer). The Hornets play on a diamond located on the west side of campus. “Our field is very, very nice,” says Reister of the facility with Bermuda grass in the infield. Henryville (enrollment around 300) is a member of the Southern Athletic Conference (with Borden, Crothersville, Lanesville, New Washington and South Central (Elizabeth). Other non-conference foes include Brownstown Central, Charlestown, Clarksville, Corydon Central, Orleans, Paoli, Perry Central, Providence, Rock Creek Academy, Salem, Seymour, Scottsburg, Silver Creek, Southwestern (Hanvover) and Trinity Lutheran. In 2021, the Hornets were part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Austin, Clarksville, Crawford County, Eastern (Pekin) and Providence. Henryville has won six sectional titles — the last in 2008. March 2 marked 10 years since a EF4 tornado caused extensive damage to Henryville, killing one person and destroying the schools. Rise Above Mental Health/Illness is a podcast hosted by Henryville senior athletes Caleb Lehaceanu, J.D. Michael and Tyler Orberson. The latest episode was dedicated to the tornado. Senior Sam Gilles, who was inside the elementary on that unforgettable day in 2012, was a podcast guest. Reister is to be on the student-led podcast in the near future. To follow the Hornets, see the Henrville High School Baseball page on Facebook.
For the 11th time, Rockport Post 254 toted away the hardware. Rockport beat Crawfordsville Post 72 by a 4-2 count in the Indiana American Legion Baseball Senior State Finals championship game. The contest was staged Tuesday, July 27 at CFD Investment Stadium at Highland Park in Kokomo and closed out a five-day run for the eight-team double-elimination tournament. Rockport (20-7) came out of the winners’ bracket, meaning that losers’ bracket survivor Crawfordsville (20-12) had to win twice to earn its first state crown and instead took home its first runner-up trophy. Post 254 and Post 72 advanced to the championship game with wins in Monday’s semifinals. With the state crown, Rockport moves on to the Great Lakes Regional Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 4-8 at Dale Miller Field in Morgantown, W.Va. Besides the Indiana champion, there will be state title-takers from Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia. Eight regional winners advance to the American Legion Baseball World Series Thursday through Monday, Aug. 12-16 on Veterans Field at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C. Post 254 prevailed Tuesday by staying away from the big Post 72 inning. “That’s been one of the secrets of this bunch,” said Rockport manager Jim Haaf, who has been involved with all 11 state titles. “They overcome and they did it several times today.” Crawfordsville plated one run in the top of the seventh inning. Drew Bradley (2021 Danville Community High School) led off with a walk. With two outs, Post 254 right-handed starter Jake Stuteville (South Spencer Class of 2021) reached the 105-pitch count limit (he finished with 107 while finishing a batter) was spelled by right-hander Reece Davis (Perry Central Class of 2021), who yielded a single to center from George Valencia (Fountain Central Class of 2020) that plated Bradley then coaxed a championship-clinching infield pop-up. “I trusted my fastball,” said Stuteville, who struck out six, walked three and gave up five hits and two runs in his 5 1/3 innings. “It was moving. “I just had confidence in myself.” Rockport scored one run in the sixth for a 4-1 lead. Right-hander Landen Southern (Clinton Prairie Class of 2021) reached the pitch limit (he tossed 109 while being allowed to finish a batter) and was relieved by Bradley with the bases loaded and two outs after a pair of Southern strikeouts. Bradley walked Ashton Tindle (South Spencer Class of 2022) to force in Bren Miller (Tell City Class of 2021), who led off the inning with a single to left) and the frame ended with a strikeout. Southern gave up four runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. There were runners at first and second base against Stuteville at the close of the Post 72 sixth. “It’s rough,” said four-year Crawfordsville manager Kyle Proctor, who saw his team strand eight runners, including four in scoring position. “I think we could have won the championship, but they beat us the first time and put us in the losers’ bracket, making it a lot tougher.” Jacob Braun (North Montgomery Class of 2021) rapped a one-out single to left and Matthew Harris (Tri-West Hendricks Class of 2021) drew a walk before an inning-ending forceout and third base off the bat of Zach Fichter (Crawfordsville Class of 2021). The Rockport fifth ended with a defensive gem. Post 72 first baseman Cade Walker (Seeger Class of 2021) made a diving catch of a line drive by Jackson Raaf (South Spencer Class of 2022) and threw to shortstop Owen Gregg (North Montgomery Class of 2020) to double off Jalen Johnson (South Spencer Class of 2022), who had reached on an error and stolen second base. Southern was on the mound for Crawfordsville. Stuteville worked his way in and out of a jam in a scoreless Crawfordsville fifth. With one out. Fichter was hit by a pitch, Bradley reached on an error and Austin Motz (Crawfordsville Class of 2022) walked to lead the bases before Stuteville got a strikeout and fly-out to end the threat. “Our pitcher got squared away,” said Haaf. “Then we made some plays and began to hit the ball a little bit.” Rockport went down 1-2-3 against Southern in the fourth with swinging strikeout, pop-up and looking strikeout. Post 72 sent four batters to the plate against Stuteville in a score-free fourth and left Braun at first base following a two-out single to left. Rockport went scorless against Southern in the third. Crawfordsville turned a double play for the first two outs — shortstop Gregg to sprawling first baseman Walker. The inning ended when Crawfordsville left fielder Ficther took away a hit from Diond’re Jacob (Tell City Class of 2021). Fichter made a dive and catch heading toward the fence. Crawfordsville went down in order against Stuteville in the third with a fly-out, groundout and strikeout. Post 254 went up 3-1 with two runs in the second. Wes Scamehorn (Perry Central Class of 2021) drew a lead-off walk and scored on a two-run home run by Houston Compton (South Spencer Class of 2022). The blast to left came on a 3-2 delivery from Southern that concluded an at-bat where Compton fouled off three pitches. Post 72 pulled even at 1-1 with a run against Stuteville in the second. Braun lashed a lead-off double to left, moved to second on a single to left by Walker and scored on a fielder’s choice forceout by Harris. The frame ended with Rockville catcher Raaf firing to second baseman Johnson to cut down Harris attempting to steal. Rockport scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first. Raaf drew a one-out walk from Southern and later scored on a single to center by Davis. Southern struck out the side in Crawfordsville first. Crawfordsville’s roster was full of older players so Proctor expects a different look next summer. “We scout in the spring and see which players can join us,” says Proctor. “We play for everything. (Players) don’t pay anything.” Indiana crowned its first American Legion Baseball state champion in 1926.
INDIANA AMERICAN LEGION SENIOR STATE FINALS (At Kokomo) Championship ROCKPORT POST 254 4, CRAWFORDSVILLE POST 72 2 Crawfordsville 010 000 1 — 2 6 2 Rockport 120 001 x — 4 7 1 Landen Southern (L), Drew Bradley (6); Jake Stuteville (W), Reece Davis (7, S). Crawfordsville: Hits — Jacob Braun 3, Owen Gregg 1, George Valencia 1, Cade Walker 1. 2B — Braun. RBI — Valencia 1, Matthew Harris 1. Runs — Braun, Bradley. LOB — 8. Rockport: Hits — Davis 3, Bren Miller 2, Jackson Raaf 1, Houston Compton 1. HR — Compton. 2B — Davis. RBI — Compton 2, Davis 1, Ashton Tindle 1. Runs — Raaf 1, Compton 1, Miller 1, Wes Scamahorn 1. SB — Davis, Jalen Johnson. LOB — 5. T — 2:08. Records: Rockport 21-11, Crawfordsville 20-12.
Semifinals Rockport Post 254 10, Kokomo Post 6 7 Scoring three runs each in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, Rockport snapped a 7-7 tie with a one-out run-scoring single to left field by 2021 Tell City High School graduate Wes Scamahorn that plated Jackson Raaf (South Spencer Class of 2022). “It was one of those days when we were having a hard time getting inspired,” said Rockport manager Jim Haaf. “(Ashton Tindle’s deep, running) catch in the center field (in the sixth inning) got us going a little bit. (Right-hander and 2021 Kokomo graduate Mason Keller) was pretty good with his breaking pitch today and that gave us a lot of trouble.” A balk allowed Diond’re Jacob (Tell City Class of 2021) to tally Post 254’s ninth run and a sacrifice fly by Houston Compton (South Spencer Class of 2022) pushed across the 10th. Leading Rockport’s 12-hit attack were Compton with three, Jacob, Tindle (South Spencer Class of 2022) and Jake Stuteville (South Spencer Class of 20210 with two each. Compton drove in three runs and Stuteville knocked home two. Jacob scored three runs while Scamahorn and Compton crossed the plate two times each. Tanner Jennings (Tell City Class of 2022) pitched the last three innings and earned the victory. The right-hander gave up two runs and three hits while striking out three. “We save some pitching for (Tuesday),” said Haaf. “We managed to keep it close.” Kokomo, which led 5-1 after its first four at-bats, got three hits from Cameron Arcari (Eastern Class of 2021) and two from losing pitcher Jace Stoops (Twin Lakes Class of 2020) as well has two RBIs from Jacob Ward (Kokomo Class of 2021) and two runs scored from both Stoops and Taylor Duncan (Kokomo Class of 2021). “We are more than tickled to be in the final three teams in the state,” said Post 6 manager Don Andrews. “I’ve been involved with Legion baseball since 2004 and this is the first time I can remember a team with a losing record in the Final Four, let alone the Final Three.”
Crawfordsville Post 72 9, Newburgh Post 44 5 Post 72 broke a 4-4 deadlock with two runs in the top of the fourth inning and added two more in the sixth and one in the seventh. A solo home run over the 25-foot high right field fence by Landen Southern (Clinton Prairie Class of 2021) put Crawfordsville ahead 5-4. “We hit the ball well,” said Post 72 manager Kyle Proctor. In the two-run sixth, George Valencia (Fountain Central Class of 2020 socked a two-run homer to right-center — just to the left of the high part of the wall. Southern finished with four hits while Cade Walker (Seeger Class of 2021) had two and Valencia and Jacob Braun (North Montgomery Class of 2021) two apiece. Valencia drove in three and Braun 2. Southern scored three runs while Valencia and Braun tallied two apiece. Winning pitcher Henry Taylor (Crawfordsville Class of 2021) went the first six innings. The right-hander whiffed three and walked three while yielding six hits and four runs. Six different Newburgh players produced hits. Zach York (Evansville Harrison Class of 2022) lashed a two-run double left during a four-run uprising in the third inning. Losing pitcher David Schultz (Harrison Class of 2021) cracked a two-run single to center on the very next pitch. “It was an awesome experience considering where we came from,” said Newburgh manager Joe Paulin. After the COVID-19 pandemic took away the 2020 season and the previous coaching staff departed, it was a brand new team and staff for Newburgh in 2021. “We started from scratch,” said Paulin. “We had tryouts and kept all 12 players. A lot of those guys didn’t even know each others’ names at the beginning of the season. Here we are tied for third in the state.” Post 44 placed third behind Evansville Pate Post 265 and Terre Haute Post 346 in this year’s Junior State Finals.
INDIANA AMERICAN LEGION SENIOR STATE FINALS (At Kokomo) Semifinals (Losers’ Bracket) CRAWFORDSVILLE POST 72 9, NEWBURGH POST 44 5 Crawfordsville 004 202 1 — 9 14 2 Newburgh 004 000 1 — 5 6 1 Henry Taylor (W), Austin Motz (7); Hunter Lindsey, David Schultz (3, L), Evan Doan (7). Crawfordsville: Hits — Landen Southern 4, Cade Walker 3, George Valencia 2, Jacob Braun 2, Taylor 1, Owen Gregg 1, Matthew Harris 1. HR — Southern, Valencia. RBI — Valencia 3, Braun 2, Southern 1, Taylor 1, Walker 1. Runs — Southern 3, Valencia 2, Braun 2, Gregg 1, Zach Fichter 1. SB — Valencia 1, Braun 1, Fichter 1. LOB — 9. Newburgh: Hits — Schutlz 1, Lindsey 1, Evan Doan 1, Zach York 1, Logan Thomas 1, Keaton Holmes 1. 2B — York. RBI — York 2, Schultz 2. SB — Schultz 1. LOB — 7. T — 2:07. Records: Crawfordsville 20-11, Newburgh 19-8.
Tournament Results Game 1: Newburgh Post 44 7, South Bend Post 151 0, forfeit. Game 2: Crawfordsville Post 72 4, Muncie Post 19 2. Game 3: Rockport Post 254 2, Valparaiso Post 94 0. Game 4: Kokomo Post 6 9, South Haven Post 502 3. Game 5: Valparaiso Post 94 7, Soutn Bend Post 151 0, forfeit. Game 6: South Haven Post 502 12, Muncie Post 19 9. Game 7: Rockport Post 254 4, Newburgh Post 44 3. Game 8: Crawfordsville Post 72 10, Kokomo Post 6 4. Game 9: Newburgh Post 44 6, South Haven Post 502 5. Game 10: Kokomo Post 6 4, South Haven Post 502 3. Game 11: Rockport Post 254 9, Crawfordsville Post 72 3. Game 12 (Semifinals — Losers’ Bracket): Crawfordsville Post 72 9, Newburgh Post 44 5. Game 13 (Semifinals — Winners’ Bracket): Rockport Post 254 10, Kokomo Post 6 7. Game 14 (Championship): Crawfordsville Post 72 vs. Rockport Post 254 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 27. Game 15 (Second championship): If necessary, following Game 14.
Alex Reinoehl just wanted to get a chance to play. With so many talented players on the Franklin (Ind.) College squad, it didn’t look like Reinoehl would be able to crack the Grizzlies lineup at his favorite position — third base. In the fall of his freshman year (2017), Franklin head coach Lance Marshall approached Reinoehl and asked him if he could pitch. He threw some from a three-quarter overhand arm slot but really got movement when he dropped down sidearm — something he had done while playing with his buddies. Reinoehl pitched in a scrimmage against Vincennes University with his sidearm delivery. “It was moving a ton,” says Reinoehl. “Guys were not hitting it.” That’s when he became a college baseball regular — as a pitcher. In four seasons at NCAA Division III Franklin (2018-21), Reinoehl has made 42 appearances (all as a reliever) and is 12-3 with three saves and a 3.74 earned run average. He has 67 strikeouts and 21 walks in 84 1/3 innings. In 2021, red-haired righty got into 18 games (16 in relief) with 3-0 record, four saves and 3.50 ERA. He fanned 32 and walked 12 in 36 innings. He had five K’s and one walk in four bullpen innings March 27 against Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Earlham College. Reinoehl, who turns 23 on Sept. 25, graduated in May with a degree in Criminal Justice and minor in Spanish from Franklin and plans to complete a Psychology minor while using his extra COVID-19 year of eligibility in 2021-22. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder uses a sinking fastball that has been clocked at 84 mph with a slider and change-up. “(Speed) is not what I’m all about,” says Reinoehl. “It’s more sink.” He’d like to get a little more velocity, but he also knows if they get too much they could flatten out and not get as much desired dive. He has fed his knowledge by listening to Coach Marshall, Franklin assistant and former Franklin Central High School and University of Indianapolis right-hander Jake Sprinkle, other pitchers and online information. Former big league submariner Brad Ziegler and SidearmNation.com are two of his resources. Reinoehl is 2017 graduate of Northview High School in Brazil, Ind., where his head coach was Craig Trout. As a junior, Reinoehl started at third base and scored the decisive run in the Knights’ 2-1 win against Western in the 2016 IHSAA Class 3A state championship game. Born in Houston, Texas, Reinoehl moved to Brazil — father Jon’s hometown — at 8 and played for league and all-star teams in what is now Clay Youth League Baseball through his freshmen year of high school. His lone travel ball year was as an eighth grader with the Terre Haute Junior Rex. In high school, Reinoehl played American Legion ball for Kris Lawson-managed Clinton Post 140 for one summer and Eric France-managed Brazil Post 2 for two. Reinoehl has pitched for three summer collegiate teams — the Midwest Prospect Baseball League’s Franklin (Ind.) Cougars in 2019, the College Summer League at Grand Park’s Juice in 2020 and the Prospect League’s Terre Haute Rex in 2021. Richmond, Ind., native and former Wright State University and Pittsburgh Pirates minor league infielder Matt Morrow was head coach of the CSL‘s Juice. A.J. Reed, who socked 140 professional home runs (four in the big leagues), is head coach for the Rex. Jacob Harden, who was recently named head baseball coach at Linton-Stockton High School, is an assistant. Jon, who played football and basketball at Northview, and Anna Reinoehl have five children — sons Steven, Alex, Isaac, Peyton and daughter Emma. Indiana University graduate Steven Reinoehl played soccer at Northview. Ball State University student Isaac Reinoehl played basketball for the Knights. Peyton Reinoehl (Northview Class of 2022) is also a basketball player. Emma Reinoehl is about to turn 14 and will be a Northview freshman in the fall. Grandfather Steve Reinoehl played baseball at Van Buren High School, which is part of the Northview consolidation.
2021 INDIANA AMERICAN LEGION SENIOR STATE FINALS (At Highland Park, Kokomo) Friday, July 23 Game 1: South Bend Post 151 vs. Newburgh Post 44, 11 a.m. Game 2: Muncie Post 19 vs. Crawfordsville Post 72, 1:30 p.m. Game 3: Rockport Post 254 vs. Valparaiso Post 94, 4:30 p.m. Game 4: South Haven Post 502 vs. Kokomo Post 6, 7 p.m. Saturday, July 24 Game 5: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 3 Loser, 11 a.m. Game 6: Game 2 Loser vs. Game 4 Loser, 1 p.m. Game 7: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 3 Winner, 4:30 p.m. Game 8: Game 2 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 7 p.m. Sunday, July 25 Game 9: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 7 Loser, 1 p.m. Game 10: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 8 Loser, 3:30 p.m. Game 11: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner, 6 p.m. Monday, July 26 Game 12: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 11 Loser, 1 p.m. Game 13: Game 10 Winner vs. Game 11 Winner, 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 27 Game 14 (Championship: Game 12 Winner vs. Game 13 Winner, 1 p.m. Game 15 (If necessary): Second championship game following Game 14.
Antonio “Tony” Cruz Jr., came close to losing his life and the sport that occupies much of thoughts. The COVID-19 virus struck the husband and father of three in the first half of 2020 and he spent 25 days of May in Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Ind. — nine in the Intensive Care Unit. His oxygen level dropped to 55 and twice was not expected to make it. One night he was visited by a doctor and nurse. Cruz recalls the doctor’s words: “Well, we’re not going to sugar-coat it. We’re going to be honest with you. You might die tonight. We’ve got a yellow legal pad right here. If there’s anything you might want to write to anybody, now’s the time.” There was also plenty of support of his family — wife Ilka, sons Carlos and Santana and daughter Neveah and Amiyah, father Antonio Sr. (who also in the hospital with COVID but released before his son) and mother Lucy. “It wasn’t your time,” is what Lucy Cruz told her son of why he survived and recovered. Baseball also played a big part. “Legion was always on my mind,” says Cruz, the manager of the South Bend American Legion Post 151 senior baseball team. “It gave me a reason to keep fighting and get out of there.” Drawing strength from messages sent by coaching friends including John Kehoe, Joel Reinebold, Tom Washburn and Dennis Ryans. “You don’t forget that stuff,” says Cruz. “It means a lot to me.” While the pandemic caused American Legion Baseball to cancel its state, regional and national tournaments in 2020, Indiana teams were allowed to play games if they could provide their own insurance. Cruz got out of the hospital and with air bottle in tow came to the place he considers his home away from home — the baseball field. Jim Reinebold Field — named for the late Indiana High School Baaeball Coaches Association Hall of Famer — is where the South Bend Clay High School Colonials play and Cruz serves as an assistant coach and home to Post 151, though COVID caused cancellation of the high school season and had the Legion team playing home games at South Bend’s Boland Park in 2020. For his baseball foundation, Cruz looks back to his days at Maurice Matthys Little League, where his coach from 12 to 16 was Terry Cline. “He is who I pattern my coaching style after,” says Cruz of Cline. “He was about caring and giving back.” As a player at South Bend LaSalle High School, where he graduate in 1997, Cruz played for Lions head coach Scott Sill. Cruz was a coach on Kehoe’s staff at South Bend Washington High School and also led the baseball program at Dickinson Middle School — going 23-1 in two seasons — then joined Joel Reinebold at Clay. “Joel is so supportive,” says Cruz. “I’ve been blessed to be around him for so many years.” Carlos Cruz (now 23) and Santana Cruz (21) both played for the Colonials, graduating in 2016 and 2018, respectively. Carlos attended Indiana State University for three years. Santana also played at Ancilla College in Donaldson, Ind. Neveah Cruz (who turned 19 July 12) has been around Clay baseball from seventh grade until the present and has been a student manager, director of operations and coach. This summer, 2020 Clay grad and Sport and Recreation major at Trine University in Angola, Ind., is Post 51 Juniors (17U) team manager and assistant coach to her father with the Post 51 Seniors (19U). “It’s a good bonding experience with my dad,” says Neveah. “I’ve met a lot of good people through baseball — role models.” Being around teams has given Neveah something more. “I have a lot of older brothers now,” says Neveah. Youngest daughter Amiyah is 11. This is the sixth year Tony Cruz has coached American Legion ball. When Lenny Kuespert was no longer able to manage South Bend Post 50, Cruz started Post 357. He was 357 manager for two summers and after guidance from former Bristol Post manager Jim Treadway and Legion baseball organizer Joe Kusiak and consulting with post commander Mike Vargo has led Post 151 since the 2018 season. “Legion ball is good for families who can’t afford to play travel ball, which can be salty,” says Cruz. Post 151 baseball is supported through $650 registration fees and fundraisers to cover things like insurance, uniforms, hat, socks, field rental, umpires and, in the advent of rain, field conditioner. If there’s any money left over, Cruz use it to buy Legion shirts etc. for his players. “I always give back to the kids,” says Cruz. “It’s not about me.” Custom COVID masks were purchased as well a Post 151 visors for players’ mothers. Believing that Legion baseball is also a tribute to veterans and patriotism, Cruz outfits his squads in red, white and blue uniforms. American Legion teams are allowed to roster 18 players for the postseason. There is a total enrollment limit of 6,000 in the top three grades for the high schools that provide players. Besides Santana Cruz at Ancilla, athletes who have played for Cruz and gone on to college baseball include Hunter Aker at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., Robbie Berger, J.P. Kehoe, Mason Ryans and Andrew Washburn at Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill., Tyler Bortone at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Tyler Cuma at Ivy Tech Northeast in Fort Wayne, Gabe Galvan at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Nathaniel Garcia at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Chris Gault, Cooper Lee, A.J. Klimek, Andy Migas and Lee Timmons at Trine, Colin Greve at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., Dylan Hensley at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, Roman Kuntz and Bryce Lesher at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Mich., Michael Payne at Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Ill., Hunter Robinson at Purdue University Northwest in Hammond, Ind., Cole Steveken at Ancilla, Chantz Stover at Glen Oaks Community College in Centreville, Mich., Tony Valle at Bethel University in Mishawaka, Ind., Cameron Waters at Kalamazoo (Mich.) Community College and Gabe Yonto at BCA College Post Grad in Knoxville, Tenn. Both 151 teams played about a dozen regular-season weekday games in 2021. Thursday, July 15 at 5 p.m. and following and Friday, July 16 at 5 (if necessary), South Bend Post 151 hosts Bristol Post 143 in best-of-3 Regional 3 at Jim Reinebold Field for a berth in the eight-team State Finals Friday through Tuesday, July 23-27 at Highland Park in Kokomo. Other feeder regionals are slated at Highland Post 180 Regional 1-2 (with Valparaiso Post 94, East Chicago Post 369/Lake Station Post 100 Region Legion Expos and South Haven Post 502), Regional 4 at Kokomo Post 6 (with Lafayette Post 11 and Muncie Post 19), Regional 5 at Terre Haute Post 346 (with Crawfordsville Post 72 and Sullivan Post 139), Regional 6 at Jasper Post 147 (with Washington Post 121) and Regional 7 at Rockport Post 254 (with Newburgh Post 44 and Boonville Post 200). As State Finals host, Kokomo will represent Regional 4 with the other highest finisher also advancing. The top two at Highland and the winner at the other sites will move on. Vera Cruz Tree Service has tended to customers in the South Bend, Ind., area for four decades. Recently, Tony Jr. took over the running of the family business from his father. Not long after the Legion season ends comes the Jim Reinebold Fall Baseball Camp (the instructional league is heading into its 27th year). Between seasons and conditioning, Cruz is involved with baseball about 10 months a year. The diamond — and what it represents — is his passion.