So it’s come down to this in the American Legion World Series.
The team with the most pitching left will probably capture the championship today.
And that team appears to be Minnesota state champ Eden Prairie (39-7), which remained undefeated by holding off Oregon state champ Roseburg 6-2 on Monday at Avista Stadium.
Eden Prairie will meet Oklahoma state champ the Oklahoma Outlaws of Midwest City (64-10) this afternoon at 4. By virtue of being the lone undefeated team left, Eden Prairie will have the luxury of having to be beaten twice. If a second game is needed, it will begin at 7.
Eden Prairie sent Midwest City to the loser’s bracket in a 9-6 decision Saturday.
Catcher Matt Halloran wasn’t pressing, but he went into Monday’s game with just four hits in three games. He picked an opportune to break out, doubling his pleasure by going 4 for 5 with three RBIs and a two-run homer.
“I just wasn’t seeing the ball well and I was kind of getting frustrated,” said Halloran, who has signed with the University of Minnesota. “I just told myself after talking with the coaches to have fun and enjoy being out here and the hits will come. I was looking for better pitches. It worked.”
EP, which had topped Roseburg 13-6 in an ALWS opener, had a much more difficult time against the Docs the second time.
Roseburg (35-15) made EP sweat in the ninth. The Docs put two on base and had Josh Graham, who had three homers at regionals, at the plate. But right-handed reliever Lance Thonvold, who came on for starter Grant Soderberg (7-1) moments earlier, got Graham looking for the final out.
“This is unbelievable,” Halloran said of playing for the championship. “It’s a dream come true. At the beginning of the year we didn’t even think about the World Series. We were just taking it one game at a time, one tournament at a time, and now that we’re here, it’s unreal.”
Halloran’s father, one of EP’s assistant coaches, was the most valuable player of the 1983 World Series.
EP will start Adam Bray (3-0) tonight. And if needed, Halloran said, EP could use as many as six or seven pitchers.
“We have pitching for days,” Halloran said. “That’s how we’ve been successful all year – even when the bats aren’t going we know our pitchers are going to shut them down.”
EP coach Scott Hackett agreed.
“It always comes down to pitching in these things,” Hackett said.
The 10,000th run in ALWS history, dating back to 1926, was scored in the second by Roseburg. Brandon Jackson, who reached on a double, scored when Johnny Farrington singled. The game was stopped briefly for a ceremony. Farrington and Jackson signed the ball, which will be shipped to Cooperstown.
EP took a 4-1 lead in the third on Halloran’s two-run homer, and the Docs couldn’t trim the margin thereafter.