SHELBY, N.C. — PI Midwest's quest to become the second Nebraska team ever to win the American Legion World Series came to an end Monday in a 4-3 loss to Brooklawn, N.J.
PI Midwest (Omaha Creighton Prep) led early in the elimination game, but it was tied at 2 by the fifth inning. Brooklawn scored single runs in the sixth and seventh before PI Midwest got one run back, but it wasn't enough.
“We finally reached the end of the line,'' PI Midwest coach Pat Mooney said. “But our boys did a great job and battled to the end.''
The only Nebraska team to win a Legion crown was the 1939 Omaha McDevitts, which also consisted of players from Prep.
PI Midwest (51-10) was ousted from the double-elimination tournament by a veteran team that returned 15 players from the squad that reached the Legion World Series last year. Brooklawn (57-4) had lost a rain-delayed game against New Orleans earlier in the day before bouncing back to end PI Midwest's season.
PI Midwest jumped on top in the third inning when Jon Hechtner singled, went to third on a single by Cale Dineen and scored on a groundout by Evan Ryan. It was the first of three RBIs by Ryan.
Besides driving in all of PI Midwest's runs, Ryan also threw out a runner at home from right field in the second inning.
Brooklawn grabbed a 2-1 lead in the fourth off starter McLaine Jonas after Giovanni Gussen hit an RBI single and Pat Kane was later hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
PI Midwest tied it in the bottom of the fifth when Scott Huber led off with a bunt single and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan. Brooklawn regained the lead with a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Steven Wilgus and added another in the seventh on an infield throwing error.
The team from Prep closed within 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh when Billy Lipari led off with a walk, advanced to third on wild pitches and scored on a single by Ryan.
Both squads were retired in order in the eighth and PI Midwest reliever Nick Ramsey pitched out of a jam in the top of the ninth to give his team one last chance to tie or win it. But the Omaha team went down 1-2-3 in its final at-bat of the season as Hechtner went down swinging for the final out.
Ryan, Dineen and Zack Garrett each had two hits for PI Midwest, but the 4-5-6 batters in the order went a combined 0 for 12. PI Midwest also committed four errors as Brooklawn's last two runs were unearned following three infield throwing errors.
“Our guys were trying so hard and staying aggressive that I can't fault them for that,'' Mooney said. “We still had a chance at the end but we came up just a little short.''
Jonas pitched six-plus innings and scattered eight hits while striking out three and walking three. Ramsey pitched the final three innings and allowed two hits.
Brooklawn starter Joe Santone went 6-2/3 innings to get the win and Joe Shapley pitched the final 2-1/3 innings for the save.
“Our boys were very proud to be representing PI Midwest, Prep, Omaha and Nebraska,'' Mooney said. “They gave it everything they had.''
Brooklawn, N.J...............................000 201 100—4 10 0
PI Midwest......................................001 010 100—3 8 4
W: Santone. L: Jonas. 2B: B, Brue, Brooks.