Making their mark


Chapin-Newberry AL wins American Legion World Series

By Elyssa Parnell - eparnell@civitasmedia.com - By Andrew Wigger - awigger@civitasmedia.com



Courtesy photos Only one other South Carolina American Legion team has ever won the American Legion World Series and that was Spartanburg in 1936.


Courtesy photos

Blake Smith and Ryne Huggins celebrate after winning the American Legion World Series.


Courtesy photos

By Elyssa Parnell

eparnell@civitasmedia.com

By Andrew Wigger

awigger@civitasmedia.com

NEWBERRY — Outshining last year’s overall record of 20-7, the 2015 Chapin-Newberry American Legion baseball team took it all the way this year, winning the World Series Championship title on Aug. 18 and ending its season with a record of 32-1.

Now, after bringing the championship trophy home to South Carolina for the first time since 1936, the Boys of Summer will be flown to the first game of this year’s World Series.

Justin Hawkins, named Player of the Year on behalf of the American Legion, will go to Cooperstown to watch the Hall of Fame induction.

Locally, the community is invited to attend a celebration at 4 pm. Sept. 6 at Memorial Park in downtown Newberry. Details are still being finalized.

Although there were some tough games, head coach Daniel Gregory said the season was truly a testament to the team as a whole.

“It’s a testament to the team, not letting things get to them, always doing their jobs and knowing their roles,” said Gregory, who is from Mid-Carolina High School.

Newberry American Legion Post 24 and Chapin Post 193 joined forces this year to bring American Legion baseball to the community, playing home games at the Newberry College Smith Road Complex. The team included local talent from Chapin, Clinton, Dutch Fork, Mid-Carolina and Newberry high schools.

After completing the regular season with a record of 18-0, Chapin-Newberry entered the first round of the playoffs with a 16-0 shutout of Dalzell-Shaw at the Newberry College Smith Road Complex. Chapin-Newberry American Legion traveled to Dalzell-Shaw on July 7 for the second game in the best three of five state playoff series.

The state committee then determined that with an odd number of teams remaining in the Lower State bracket after the first round, the team with the best record (Chapin-Newberry) would be awarded a bye directly into the state tournament, played in Sumter.

Chapin-Newberry made it known they were going to win the state championship when they scored a total of 29 runs on 37 hits and allowed opponents Sumter and Florence just four runs on 16 hits in the last two games of the American Legion state tournament.

Chapin-Newberry ended the tournament with a season record of 23-0, which they carried to the Southeastern Regional in Asheboro, N.C., beginning Aug. 5. Opening the Southeastern Regional with a 4-3 win over Tallahassee Post 113, the Florida champion, put the then 24-0 team in the winner’s bracket.

Even going into the World Series undefeated, Gregory said it never became about wins and losses.

It was more about motivation.

“If things weren’t going our way it was confidence that it eventually would because they had so many times before up until that point,” Gregory said. “We tried not to dwell on it too much.”

The team’s drive of winning the Southeastern Regional Championship led them through to the end, notching five back-to-back wins to be crowned regional champs, punching their ticket to the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C.

Chapin-Newberry was one of eight teams competing for the World Series title. The teams in the final games were from South Carolina, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Connecticut, Louisiana, Nebraska and Hawaii.

Chapin-Newberry came out on top, playing five games in five days, only losing one on the way to the championship title.

Only one other South Carolina team has ever won the American Legion World Series and that was Spartanburg in 1936.

On the way to the title, Chapin-Newberry defeated the Great Lakes Region champion from Midland, Mich., by a score of 2-1, the Northeast Region champs from Cromwell, Conn., by a score of 7-6 and the Northwest Region champs from Medford, Ore., by a score of 4-3.

Gregory said the team’s comeback in the Connecticut game was the biggest in around 32 years.

“It was a crazy game,” he said.

With the team down 6-0 in the seventh inning, Gregory said he began thinking about getting everybody in because it could have been their last game. He said he wanted to make sure the team’s World Series experience was a good one.

“It led to subbing in Delshun Young to get things started,” Gregory said. “He gets the hit and six runs later, I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what just happened.”

Not trying to disrupt “fate,” Gregory said they did not try to do anything until Danton Hyman’s squeeze bunt, which was not called. Gregory said Hyman had the freedom to do that whenever he wanted. The team performing well defensively in the eighth and ninth innings paid off.

“I’ve bunted all my life,” Hyman said. “That’s one of my ways of getting on as a lead-off hitter.”

Hyman said he picked up on the signal from Duncan Crotwell on base and knew it would be perfect timing.

“The crowd went wild, and I knew,” Hyman said. “That feeling was amazing.”

The odds were in the team’s favor, with Louisiana beating Michigan on Monday, getting the team to the World Series Championship game.

The only loss during the series came at the bats of the Mid-South region champs — the Retif Oil Post 125 from New Orleans, La. — with a 5-3 loss on Aug. 15 that Chapin-Newberry avenged three days later on Aug. 18 with a 9-2 victory in the championship game.

Following the championship game, Hawkins was named Player of the Year on behalf of the American Legion.

“It was unreal,” Hawkins said. “I wasn’t sure what was happening until it hit me after we had left the field and everyone was asking me if I understood what I had gotten.”

Hawkins said losing the first time to Louisiana was not a huge deal to the team.

“We all knew that you’re not supposed to be undefeated in baseball and that it was going to happen sooner or later,” Hawkins said. “But going into the championship game to play the team that we lost to going in, we knew they could hit so we said let’s jump on them early so we have room to work with.”

After the team’s only loss this season, Hyman said Gregory asked the team how they would respond — laying down or getting up and going back out there to finish the next two days.

Hyman said having Tristan Smaltz on the mound for the championship game put them with great defense on the field as well.

“We went out thinking this is just another game,” Hyman said. “There were a lot of people counting on us to win this game and no matter what, we said we would leave it all on the field.”

Hyman said the team hit the ball, played good defense and that overall you could not ask for a better championship game.

“Every once in a while it’s not a bad thing to lose,” Hyman said. “It gets all the bad luck out.”

Pitcher Ryne Huggins said that throughout the season the team had rituals they followed to help give them luck. Huggins said they would stretch the same way and some players even wore the same articles of clothing.

“Peyton Spangler wore the same socks every game. At one point they got holes in them so he wore other socks over them,” Huggins said. “A lot of the guys, including me, are really superstitious.”

This summer was Huggins first time playing for the Chapin-Newberry team. He has played on the Newberry High School team, but decided to join the legion team after watching his older brother Jack.

“My brother played last year, and as I watched him play, it looked like a lot of fun. So I decided to join,” Huggins said. “It was pretty crazy season. I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped on the field for the first time. Pretty amazing when we won it.”

Reach Elyssa Parnell at 803-276-0625, ext. 1868, or on Twitter @TheNBOnews. Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625, ext. 1867, or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.

Courtesy photos Only one other South Carolina American Legion team has ever won the American Legion World Series and that was Spartanburg in 1936.
http://uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_DSC_0866.jpgCourtesy photos Only one other South Carolina American Legion team has ever won the American Legion World Series and that was Spartanburg in 1936. Courtesy photos

Blake Smith and Ryne Huggins celebrate after winning the American Legion World Series.
http://uniondailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_GetFileAttachment2.jpgBlake Smith and Ryne Huggins celebrate after winning the American Legion World Series. Courtesy photos
Chapin-Newberry AL wins American Legion World Series

By Elyssa Parnell

eparnell@civitasmedia.com

By Andrew Wigger

awigger@civitasmedia.com

Reach Elyssa Parnell at 803-276-0625, ext. 1868, or on Twitter @TheNBOnews. Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625, ext. 1867, or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.

Reach Elyssa Parnell at 803-276-0625, ext. 1868, or on Twitter @TheNBOnews. Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625, ext. 1867, or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.

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