Tag Archives: Ken Zvokel

Muncie Post 19 Chiefs play Wednesday in American Legion Baseball Great Lakes Regional

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

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.

Pruitt’s no-hitter helps Muncie Post 19 Chiefs win Indiana Senior Legion title

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

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)

The Muncie Post 19 Chiefs, 2022 Indiana American Legion Senior Baseball champions. (Steve Krah Photo)

West’s aim to make baseball better for Muncie Central Bearcats

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Getting more and better baseball experiences for the players in his program is the aim of Muncie (Ind.) Central High School head coach Norm West.

The 63-year-old has been in charge of the Bearcats since the 2018 season after three seasons as an assistant and three as head coach at Muncie Southside (which was consolidated into Central). 

“It’s a challenge at Central,” says West. “Most of my kids don’t have the financial means to do the travel stuff.

“It’s pretty tough for us to compete. We play one heck of a schedule.”

Muncie Central, an IHSAA Class 4A school with around 1,300 students, is a member of the North Central Conference. The Bearcats are in the East Division with Anderson, Arsenal Tech of Indianapolis, Marion and Richmond. The West Division features Harrison of West Lafayette, Kokomo, Lafayette Jeff, Logansport and McCutcheon. Divisions foes play each other twice then comes a seeded NCC tournament.

There has not been a junior high baseball program feeding Muncie Central for several years and that’s kept numbers down.

West, who started into high school coaching as a Southside assistant to P.J. Fauqher in 2008, says he hopes to correct the low participation numbers while building up the Bearcats in other ways.

“I want to leave the program better than when I got it,” says West.

There have not been many high schoolers in Limited Contact sessions because of fall-sports participation.

“Kids have got to be doing something,” says West. “I love to keep them in every sport they’re interested in doing.”

West has welcomes seventh and eighth graders to high school workouts.

“I’m just glad we’re getting to play again,” says West.

A self-employed masonry contractor, West has been added brick to the back stop and dugouts at Gene Bottorff Field — the Bearcats’ home diamond named for the former MC head coach and Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer.

“I want to make it a drawing card,” says West of Bottorff Field. “I want my kids to have somewhere nice to play.”

The Bearcats have been thrilled when they’ve had the chance to play at Ball State University. Few players have enjoyed the opportunity to take to the diamonds of Grand Park in Westfield, Ind.

By sprucing up the Muncie Central facility, it will allow for travel teams to play their in the summer. 

A just-concluded fall league featured 84 players — including some middle schoolers — from 22 different Indiana schools with some coming from as far as Terre Haute, Columbus and Fort Wayne.

Playing mostly daylight to dark on Sundays, seven teams competed at Muncie Central. 

“Kids are starving to play,” says West, noting how all players lost the spring season and much — if not all — the summer to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is a league designed to introduce kids to the high school game.”

It’s a also a revenue stream for the Bearcats program.

A 1974 graduate of Yorktown (Ind.) High School in Delaware County, West was a 5-foot-6, 155-pound left-handed pitcher for Tigers coach Joe Pena. 

West got many hitters out using a a pitch with screwball action, meaning it ran into left-handed batters and away from right-handers.

Though injury limited his college career one season season, he pitched 31 innings and made three starts for the University of Louisville. He went the distance in a 3-2 loss to Indiana and notched another complete game in a 4-1 win against Xavier. He also earned a start in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament against Southern Illinois.

West landed at U of L when former Yorktown catcher Randy Delph — three years older than West — went to play for the Cardinals and recommended the left-hander to head coach Jim Zerilla.

“Don’t tell me you can’t make it,” says West. “I did.”

And not by throwing hard or racking up large strikeout totals — a lesson for his current players.

“The No. 1 thing is to throw the ball over the plate,” says West. “I don’t care how hard how hard you throw it if you can’t control it.

“Try to miss the barrel of the bat and get weak ground balls and and pop-ups. They got by pitch count now. The best inning in baseball is five pitches with two groundouts and a pop-up.

“I try to get my guys to think about pitching instead of just throwing.”

West’s assistant coaches are Ken Zvokel (the Muncie American Legion Post 19 Chiefs manager) plus Dave Garrett and Ball State University student Garris Rehfus.

While there are no college players among recent Muncie Central graduates, West sees potential.

“There are a couple of younger kids who have a chance if they work their hind end’s off,” says West.

After the injury that ended his college mound days, West came back home to work and raise a family. Norm and Jan West — who have been married for 45 years have three boys who all played baseball at Yorktown — Kyle (Class of 1996), Cory (Class of 2000) and Clay (Class of 2007). There are also three grandsons and three granddaughters. All live close-by for grandparents to get quality time.

Norm West (in dark jersey behind head coach Jim Zerilla) pitched for the University of Louisville in 1975 after graduating from Yorktown (Ind.) High School in 1974. He has been the head baseball coach at Muncie (Ind.) Central High School since the 2018 season. (University of Louisville Photo)

Norm West, a 1974 Yorktown (Ind.) High School graduate, has been head baseball coach at Muncie (Ind.) Central High School since the 2018 season.

COVID-19 concerns cause Indiana, national officials to cancel American Legion Baseball, other events

RBILOGOSMALL copy

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

For the first time in generations, there will not be an Indiana or national American Legion Baseball tournament.

Because of concerns with the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, officials have decided to call off 2020 events.

“It’s definite,” says John Hayes, a member of Indiana and national Legion baseball committees. “We’ve canceled the World Series (in Shelby, N.C.) and national regionals. I’ve talked with (state baseball chairman) Owen Wells and we’ve closed up the state of Indiana.

“It’s something we thought long and hard about. It was the right thing to do. This virus thing is not worth taking a chance especially since we don’t know how it’s going to last.”

Hayes says at least five states had shut down Legion baseball for 2020 before the national decision.

An early call was also made since the national organization had already began its fundraising efforts and it purchases plane tickets for regional qualifiers.

While many teams had not yet registered, Hayes estimates there might have been more than 30 senior (19U) teams in Indiana this year with a smaller number of junior (17U) squads.

Some teams had already paid for state tournament and insurance and will now wait for refunds.

Wells, who is based at Rockport Post 254, notes that American Legion Baseball began its national tournament in 1925 and has hosted an event every year since 1927.

Terre Haute Wayne Newton Post 346, which is managed by Tim Hayes (brother of John), was state tournament runner-up in 2017 and won the state title in both 2018 and 2019.

“We hate it for the kids. We hate it for the program,” says John Hayes. “But if this is the worse thing that ever happens to them, they’ll have a good life.”

Kokomo Post 6 was set to host the 2020 state tournament at Highland Park Stadium and will now host the 2021 event.

“I’m disappointed, but I was expecting it,” says Post 6 manager Don Andrews of the cancellation. “It’s the smart thing to do.

“We could still play travel baseball, but we certainly won’t do that if it’s not safe.”

Andrews notes that his players had already completed fundraising.

In case they would get a chance to play, he is advising them to throw the baseball three of more times a week.

“The most important thing is to keep your arm in shape,” says Andrews. “Everything else they can pick up quickly.”

Kevin Zvokel is the manager for the Muncie Post 19 Chiefs.

“I really feel bad for the players who had already lost their high school and college seasons, especially the seniors who missed an opportunity for a final season of baseball with their friends,” says Zvokel. “In the end, the No. 1 concern is safety for our players, coaches and fans.

“Hopefully things clear and we can still get some baseball in this summer.”

Jill Druskis, Director of the Americanism Division of the American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis, says that national capstone American Legion youth programs are National Oratorical Contest, eight Baseball regional tournaments, Baseball World Series, Boys Nation and the shoulder-to-shoulder match of the Junior Shooting 3-Position Air Rifle National Championship. 

Besides baseball, oratorical, Hoosier Boys State, Boys Nation and national air rifle contests have been canceled. Girls State and Girls Nation are run by American Legion Auxiliary.

“And the awarding of one of our national youth program scholarships has been affected this year as well,” says Druskis. “It is through the Boys State and Girls State programs that youth are afforded eligibility to apply for a Samsung American Legion Scholarship.

“Many Boys State and Girl State delegates did not pursue their application for the 2020 Samsung American Legion Scholarship as a result of their respective Boys State and Girls State program being canceled.”

National Commander of The American Legion James William “Bill” Oxford provides daily updates at this link.

AMERICANLEGIONBASEBALL

Todd entering second season in charge of Wes-Del Warriors baseball

RBILOGOSMALL copy

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Defense is a priority for head coach Bob Todd and his Wes-Del Middle/High School baseball team.

Entering his second season in 2019, Todd is emphasizing defensive communication and execution at the school in Gaston, Ind., northwest of Muncie.

“If you’re defense is bad, it’s hard to win even if you do hit,” says Todd. “We try to limit the free 90’s and win that battle every game.

“That gives us a chance to at least be in the game.”

During this IHSAA limited contact period, Todd’s Warriors have been in the small middle school gym on Wednesday or Thursday nights and Saturday mornings.

“We usually have stations for defensive reps or conditioning for an hour then do hitting and flat-mound bullpens for an hour,” says Todd. “We keep them working. Everybody is doing something. We don’t want anybody standing around. We’re getting a lot of things accomplished and getting better at all times.”

Todd counts himself as a proponent of the arm care program discussed by the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association and Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.

In the future, Wes-Del baseball may benefit from a new auxiliary gym in the works at the Delaware County school.

Wes-Del (enrollment around 280) is in the Mid-Eastern Conference (with Blue River Valley, Cowan, Daleville, Eastern Hancock, Monroe Central, Randolph Southern, Shenandoah, Union-Modoc and Wapahani).

MEC teams play each other once at various times during the spring to determine a conference champion.

Todd says it has been announced that beginning in 2021 conference games will be played every Tuesday and Thursday with schedules being laid out around those days.

Non-conference opponents include Alexandria-Monroe, Anderson Preparatory Academy, Blackford, Delta, Eastbrook, Elwood, Frankton, Liberty Christian, Madison-Grant, Muncie Burris, Seton Catholic, Southern Wells, Union City and Yorktown. The Delaware County tournament is slated for May 7 and May 11.

The home field is located behind the school on North Yorktown-Gaston Pike (North 600 West).

The Warriors are in an IHSAA Class 1A grouping with Anderson Prep, Cowan, Daleville, Liberty Christian, Southern Wells and Tri-Central. Wes-Del last won a sectional title in 2011.

Todd is assisted by Ken Zvokel (varsity) and Zach Tanner (JV) with occasional help from other volunteers. Mary Helen Bink has been a scorekeeper for Wes-Del for more than three decades.

A year ago, Wes-Del had 20 players in the program. Nine of those have graduated and two others are not expected back. Based on call-out meetings, Todd says he may have as many as 24 this spring.

The first official day of practice is March 11. Spring break for Wes-Del Community Schools is March 22-29. The baseball team is slated for open its season April 2 and have six games scheduled in the first eight days.

“Players have 10 practice to get before spring break,” says Todd, referring to the IHSAA rule for participation. “It’s imperative that they come to all practices.”

Wes-Del Youth Athletic Association provides baseball and softball for T-ball through age 12.

To provide baseball opportunities for middle schoolers, a team has been organized for Wes-Del boys that plays in the spring and summer.

Others Wes-Del athletes participate in the summer in the East Central Indiana League and in travel baseball.

Bob and Felicia Todd have two children — McKenzie (20) and Zack (15). Zack Todd is a freshman baseball player at Wes-Del and plays with the Indiana Nitro during the travel ball season.

Bob Todd is a 1996 graduate of Muncie South Side High School, where he played freshmen baseball when Larry Lewis was head coach.

Before taking the job at Wes-Del, Todd had coached in area travel ball organizations, including the Indiana Mojo.

Todd is employed as a general manager for American Pest Professionals, which has offices in Muncie and Marion.

WES-DELWARRIORS

FELICIAZACKBOBMCKENZIETODDThe Todd family (from left): Felicia, Zack, Bob and McKenzie. Bob Todd is head baseball coach at Wes-Del High Sch