FORT PIERCE — Fort Pierce Post 358 manager Andrew Wells was trying to think of ways to describe his team, but one title did the trick better than any other: State champions.
Post 358 beat Royal Palm Beach Post 367 8-4 in the American Legion State Tournament title game at Indian River State College on Sunday afternoon. It is Post 358′s first state title since 2009.
“We don’t have any stars,” Wells said. “We don’t have any guys that will be big-time (Division)-I (college) players or any big-time draft guys. It’s one of those deals where we just came together as a club at the right time. Talent-wise, this is not the most talented team I’ve coached, but it is one of the best teams I’ve ever coached.
“We can pitch and play defense, but we don’t hit for much power. We haven’t hit a home run all year. But we play small ball. We move runners over, that is what we do — and we’ve been very effective at doing it.”
Royal Palm Beach took a 3-0 lead after three innings, thanks in large part to uncharacteristic errors by Post 358′s defense, but the Post 358′s offense came alive in the fourth inning.
Justus Labignang hit a two-run double in the top of the fourth inning to get Post 358 on the board. After tying the game in the sixth inning, Kohl Gilmore hit a three-run double in the top of the seventh to give Post 358 a 6-3 lead.
Shortstop Damon Collada went 3-for-5 with a double and three runs scored, while Gilmore, Matt Nocito and Rocky Wright each had two hits.
“This tournament has been an interesting experience for this club,” Wells said. “It’s really been timely hitting. We’re not a team that is going to string together big innings, but we got some big hits at the right time. It was really interesting.”
The run support was more than enough for left-hander Tim Farrell, who pitched six innings of relief and got the win for Post 358. Labigang started the game and allowed just one earned run in three innings, but was kept to a low pitch count after throwing a complete game Thursday.
Farrell struck out six, walked one, allowed five hits and one run. Farrell pitched well in relief during the tournament and did a good job of keeping Royal Palm hitters off balance.
“He changed speeds really well,” Wells said. “He threw a lot of strikes, got ahead of a lot of guys and pitched really well. The whole team played well. It’s just one of those deals where the team clicked at the right time.”
Sunday’s result was special for Wells, who won an American Legion state title as a player in 2000.
“It actually is really different,” Wells said. “I wish I could say it’s really similar, but it’s much different emotionally. As a player, you are so drained from whole experience. We played seven games in 2000.
“We won four straight this year. To march through the state tournament undefeated — it was a pretty dominating performance.”
Post 358 advances to the American Legion Southeast Regional in Sumter, S.C., which begins on Aug. 8.
FORT PIERCE POST 358 8, ROYAL PALM BEACH POST 367 4
Post 358—000 201 311—8 13 4
Post 367—012 000 010—4 7 2
Labigang, Farrell (4) and Shabareck; Z.Berry, J.Berry (3), Hetzel (8) and Moore. WP: Farrell. LP: J. Berry. 2B: Nocito (FP), Gilmore (FC), Collada (FP). 3B: Pettet (RPB), Labigang (FP).
Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2012/jul/30/post-358-wears-crown/