Post 70 cruises to third straight state championship
Published 9:04 pm Monday, July 30, 2018
The American Legion Post 70 baseball team captured its third straight championship with a 10-6 win over Tuscaloosa Post 34.
Post 70 finished the tournament with a perfect 4-0 record and will head to Asheboro, North Carolina for the Southeastern Tournament.
“It felt good,” said manager Rush Hixon. “I told somebody the other day that these wins never get old. It’s always better to be on the winning side than the losing side. We are excited.”
Despite starting the tournament 2-0, Hixon believes his team didn’t play up to expectations. That changed on Saturday.
“We came out in the semifinal game and had a dominating performance,” Hixon said. “We won 10-0 against Shelby County in the semifinals. It was the most complete game performance we played in the tournament. The bats were clicking and we had some good hits. It carried over into the championship.”
Nathan Light got the start for Post 70 in the win. Light helped lead Post 70 to the title, having pitched five innings while giving up five runs, four of which were earned on three hits and three walks.
Post 70 finished with 14 hits. D.J. Law led the way by going 3-4 with an RBI. Brayden Baggett, Joey Wozniak, Dylan Register and Wood Jinright all finished with two hits.
“We jumped out to a good lead early,” Hixon said. “Credit Tuscaloosa, they came back and answered it. Also, credit to our guys for weathering the storm, continuing the fight and scoring some runs.”
After a long summer, there is nothing like capping it off with a championship.
“One of the best things about American Legion baseball is there is an end goal,” Hixon said. “Unlike travel ball baseball where you pay to continue to play, you have to win at this point of the season in order to advance. For us to win a third straight championship, it means so much to me and coach (John) Rushing. We are excited and I am happy for the guys.”
The Southeastern Regional is just over a week away. Hixon and Post 70 have been in this position before, but in each of the last three seasons, they left without much success.
“The talent is really good up there,” Hixon said. “We haven’t had the best of luck the past two years. We get up there and we kind of get away from how we play baseball. The message moving forward will be that if we play our game, we will have a chance against anybody we play.”
Post 70 will head to Asheboro and play in an environment they have not been in all season.
“It’s a different animal up there,” Hixon said. “It’s a cool atmosphere. It’s a lot different than anything we played in all summer. It’s going to be fun for them.”
Post 70 has a total of three players that will be making their third trip to the regionals. Hixon hopes the third time will be the charm thanks to the experience of his returning players.
“You always want those type of guys to step up and take the lead,” Hixon said. “I think that is exactly what they will do. They are going to go up there and it’s not going to be anything new for them. There shouldn’t be any nerves for those three guys. Hopefully their mentality going up there will be the same for the rest of the team.”
Post 70 will begin the tournament on August 8. They will take on the South Carolina runner-up. It will be a rematch of a game earlier this season when Post 70 lost to their South Carolina foe.