Local roundup: Post 1 captures Delaware’s first American Legion World Series title

Delaware Post 1 players celebrate. American Legion baseball

Delaware’s first American Legion World Series championship was as dramatic as it gets.

Delaware Post 1 survived a pitchers’ duel for a 1-0 victory over Nevada in the championship game of the American Legion baseball World Series tournament on Tuesday night.

It is the first time a team from Delaware won the national title. This was a first time a team from Delaware had even made the World Series since 1976.

The game went into extra innings before Michael Cautillo led off the eighth with a walk for the Wilmington-area squad. Cautillo was bunted over to second by Chris Ludman.

Austin Colmery poked a grounder up the middle for a single and Cautillo raced home before sprawling across home plate headfirst with the winning run.

Ludman pitched eight innings of shutout ball for Delaware Post 1. The University of Delaware pitcher scattered four hits and did not allow a runner to reach third base.

“That feels amazing,” Ludman said. “Coming into this season, we set high expectations, and I think we exceeded even our highest expectations tonight.”

Ludman threw 24 pitches in the first inning but settled down and was able to stay under the pitch-count limit to go eight innings. He finished with three strikeouts and zero walks.

Delaware Post 1 escaped the top of the eighth thanks to a great play by shortstop Nate Thomas. With a runner on first and two outs, Thomas made a diving stop behind second base and threw a lob from the seat of his pants, barely beating the runner for the final out of the inning.

“The runner on first was stealing so I actually had to break a little to second when I saw the play hit up the middle,” Thomas said. “I’m not very good at diving headfirst, but I saw the ball, laid out for it, I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the play at second. … I just threw as hard as I could over to first. It didn’t get over there at high speed, but it got over there.”

“Thank God they were stealing on that pitch,” Ludman said. “Nate made an amazing play there at the end to help us win.”

Colmery and Thomas each had a pair of hits for Delaware Post 1. Cautillo also singled for Delaware Post 1 who only had five hits of its own.

Ludman was named the George W. Rulon American Legion Player of the Year.

Delaware Post 1 (38-4) missed some scoring chances earlier in the game, including a trick play by the Las Vegas defense in the sixth. Pinch-runner Nick Muzzi fell for a faked throw to second base by starting pitcher Josh Sharman and got caught in a rundown between second and third. Another attempted steal caught leadoff batter Jack Dubecq in the bottom of the seventh.

“We didn’t panic all season, we didn’t panic going back to June, we talked about taking a punch in the mouth and not get knocked out,” said Delaware Post 1 coach Brent Treml. “We had some self-inflicted punches today but we didn’t give up, we didn’t panic.”

College field hockey

Hens 9th in poll: With just three days until their first contest of the year, the Blue Hens were ranked No. 9 in the first Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I National Coaches Poll of the year.

Delaware earned 704 points in the preseason poll and kick off the season playing four out of five listed in the preseason Top 25 (No. 24 Ohio State, No. 18 Saint Joseph’s, No. 8 Louisville, No. 4 Maryland).

The Hens finished 2017 with a 15-5 record while going undefeated in the Colonial Athletic Association and claiming the conference title for the fifth straight year.

The reigning national champion, Connecticut, took the top spot with 979 points and 19 first place votes and was followed closely by North Carolina (966; 18). Duke ranked No. 3 (908; 1) while Michigan (837) rounded out the Top 5.

UD opens the 2018 campaign this weekend by traveling to Ohio for contests against the Buckeyes (Friday, 4 p.m.) and Miami (Sunday, 11:30 a.m.).

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