Members of the Eden Prairie (Minn.) baseball team couldn't have been blamed if they had déjà vu thoughts after falling behind, 4-0, in the first inning of the American Legion World Series championship baseball game in Shelby, N.C. After all, they had reached the finals one year earlier only to lose twice on the same day to champion Oklahoma City.
This time, however, they rallied to outlast Tupelo (Miss.), 5-4, in a 13-inning classic to claim their first national crown. The three-hour, 30-minute marathon, which ended just before midnight, was the longest finale since 1931 and the first extra-inning title game since 1973.
A crowd of 6,000 attended the championship game and an all-time World Series attendance record was set at 86,000 for the week. The listed record of 60,000 was established 70 years ago.
Eden Prairie, which compiled a 43-8-1 record during the summer, lost its first game in the tourney, 14-3, to Midland (Mich.) and had to win five straight in the losers' bracket to reach the finals.
Assistant coach Mike Halloran admitted last year's crushing defeat was a major motivator this year.
"The kids came back definitely fired up," he affirmed. "It was a wild one. A lot of credit goes to our kids."
Head coach Scott Hackett added, "It was unbelievable. Not many teams get a do-over in this game."
Blake Schmit, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound shortstop, won the George W. Rulon Player of the Year Award and the Click Cowger RBI Award. Schmit, who attends Des Moines Area Community College, batted .377 with 14 doubles. He also drove in 41 runs and scored 39. On defense he made just 10 errors all summer.
The Rawlings Big Stick Award went to Tony Skjefte
, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound second baseman who is headed for the University of Minnesota. He batted .371 and tied for the team lead with 14 home runs. He also led the team by driving in 62 runs from the No. 3 slot in the lineup.
First baseman Tyler Peterson led the champs with a .481 batting average, slammed 14 homers and drove in 59 runs from the cleanup position. The 6-3, 180-pounder attends Northern Iowa Community College. Peterson doubled in the tying run during the eighth inning and scored the winner in the top of the 13th.
Right-handed pitcher Adam Bray
(6-2, 215), who is headed for South Dakota State University, posted an 8-2 record and batted .358. Another right-hander, Lance Thonvold
(6-4, 225) had a 3-0 record and seven saves as a closer. He also batted .350 and drove in 52 runs.
Thonvold was one of several heroes in the championship game, throwing six scoreless innings in relief. Bray beat Las Vegas, 2-1, with a six-hitter earlier on the same day to vault his team into the title game.
Leadoff batter Tyler Ruemmele
(6-1, 180), batted .315 and scored 35 runs. On the mound the University of North Dakota-bound standout posted a perfect 7-0 record with a 1.86 ERA.
Six or seven of the Legion players will be starters next spring for the Eden Prairie (Minn.)
High School team.
Included are two rising seniors who should be the No. 1 and 2 pitchers. Right-hander Cameron Mingo (6-4, 170) compiled an 8-0 record with a 1.90 ERA, while lefty Jordan Smith (6-2, 190), had a 6-1 record with a 4.86 ERA.
It appears that Shelby has fallen in love with the Legion finals and should continue to be the host city.
"Everywhere we went we got celebrity treatment," Halloran said. "The whole town is behind them."
* Pitching stars Dylan Bundy
(Owasso, Okla.) and Archie Bradley
(Broken Arrow, Okla.) both have signed professional baseball contracts for big money, according to the Tulsa World. Bundy, the No. 4 pick, signed with the Baltimore Orioles for $4 million. No. 7 pick Bradley received $5 million from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
* Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.)
should have one of the best pitching staffs in the country next spring with the transfer of senior lefthander Max Fried from Montclair Prep, which has dropped its sports program. Fried and current senior Lucas Giolito
both have made commitments to UCLA and sophomore Jack Flaherty
also is a bright prospect.FOOTBALL: BOYLE COUNTY STREAK ENDS AT 30Highlands (Fort Thomas, Ky.)
defeated Boyle County (Danville, Ky.)
, 35-14, to snap a 30-game winning streak. Highlands has won the last four Class 5A state titles, while Boyle County has won the last two 4A titles. Quarterback Patrick Towles
accounted for 280 yards – 39 more than Boyle County had as a team.
* Dylan Beasley
of Nelson County (Bardstown, Ky.)
passed for 440 yards and three touchdowns during a 63-35 loss to Franklin County (Frankfort, Ky.)
* Jeremy Harness
, a 5-8 senior tailback, gained 306 yards on just 11 carries and scored four touchdowns as John Hardin (Elizabethtown, Ky.)
routed Henry Clay (Lexington, Ky.), 56-6.
* Senior running back Iyan Bass
broke his own school record by rushing for 396 yards (39 carries, four touchdowns) to lead Jennings County (North Vernon, Ind.)
to a 51-27 victory over Batesville (Ind.).
* Columbus East (Columbus, Ind.)
defeated Greenwood (Ind.), 28-7, even though the nation's No. 1 quarterback, Gunner Kiel
, was held to 4-for-17 passing for 44 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-4, 215-pound Kiel was victimized by many dropped passes, but did run for 70 yards.
* Senior J.J. Jude
rushed just nine times for 313 yards and six touchdowns as Johnson Central (Paintsville, Ky.)
rolled past Heath (West Paducah, Ky.), 48-7.
* Junior quarterback Charlie High
(6-0, 175) connected on 36 of 44 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns to lead Christian Academy of Knoxville (Tenn.)
to a 47-28 victory over Anderson County (Clinton, Tenn.).
* Station Camp (Gallatin, Tenn.)
lost a shootout to Hendersonville (Tenn.)
, 43-36, despite sterling performances by quarterback Nick Beach
and wide receiver Josh Malone
. Beach, a 6-2, 180-pound senior, passed for 326 yards and five touchdowns. Malone, a 6-3, 180-pound sophomore, caught four passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to gaining 85 yards on kickoff returns. BASKETBALL: HERZ MOVES TO CALIFORNIA
Danny Herz has been hired as athletic director at Tarbut V'torah (Irvine, Calif.)
following a very successful career as boys basketball coach at American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)
. All-American guard Kenny Boynton is among the top players that he turned out.
* New Jersey has changed its state tournament bracket so that national powers St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) and St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) can only meet in the Non-Public Class B state finals – not the North B finals.
* On the girls side, St. Frances Academy (Baltimore)
junior guard Tyshell King has made a commitment to Wake Forest University, according to the Baltimore Sun. The 5-11 standout, who averaged 18.8 points and 10 rebounds as a sophomore, also considered schools such as Duke, West Virginia, Georgetown, Virginia and Syracuse.
* The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Nicole Bauman has chosen the University of Wisconsin over Marquette. The 5-9 standout averaged 15.5 points, six assists and four steals as a junior at Eisenhower (New Berlin, Wis.)
. She shot 59 percent from the floor and 84 percent from the free throw line.GYMNASTICS: VISA CHAMPIONS CROWNED
Leyva (Homestead, Fla.) won the senior men's all-around title with a
score of 183.800 during the Visa championships in Saint Paul, Minn. The
senior women's all-around crown went to Jordyn Wieber (DeWitt, Mich.)
with a score of 121.300. She also won the uneven bars (29.750) and floor
exercise (29.900). Defending champion Rebecca Bross (Plano, Texas) did
not finish due to an injury.
In the junior division (ages 16-18), Katelyn Ohashi (Plano, Texas)
captured the women's all-around title with 120.950 points. She also won
the uneven bars (31.150), balance beam (31.050) and floor exercise
(30.050). The men's title was taken by Adrian de los Angeles (Long
Beach, Calif.) with 166.600. Sean Melton (Orlando, Fla.) was the 14-15
champion with 167.250 points.POTPOURRI
* Former state champion Cody Wiercioch has transferred from Charleroi (Pa.)
to wrestling power Canon-McMillan (Canonsburg, Pa.)
. He won a state title at 152 pounds as a freshman and was state runner-up last year at 160 as a sophomore.
* The National Federation of State High School Associations is beefing up its website (nfhs.org), according to assistant director John Gillis. New additions include "Famous High School Venues" and "Unbreakable Records."