Post-14 American Legion baseball team a big hit for Smyrna

SMYRNA — High school baseball players from Smyrna have a new option to play ball this summer.

For the first time, Smyrna has an American Legion baseball team.

The new team, called Smyrna Post-14, is currently in fifth-place of 11 teams in the state entering Wednesday night games. It typically plays three games throughout the week and usually doubleheaders on Saturdays.

Smyrna-Post 14 is made up of high schoolers and freshmen in college from Smyrna. It is mostly current or recently graduated Smyrna High players, with two players from Polytech and another two college players who played their high school careers at Smyrna (Jared Gillis and Ryan Seymour).

The coach is as familiar of a face in Smyrna as there can be, Mike Dulin. He is currently an assistant baseball coach at the high school but is perhaps more known as Smyrna High’s wrestling coach from 1984-1998, where he still holds the school record for most dual meet victories by a coach.

Smyrna Post 14’s Jarred Gillis dives back to first base against Stahl Post 1 in American Legion action in Smyrna on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Previously, if anyone from Smyrna wanted to play American Legion baseball over the summer, they would have to play with the team out of Middletown, Canal Post-25. Four current Smyrna Post-14 players were on Canal Post-25 last season when it ended up winning the state championship.

“Having a team here now is good for our community,” Dulin said. “Kids don’t have to travel, they can play right here in our own place.”

With Big League baseball no longer an option after it disbanded after last summer, more players have been playing American Legion this summer.

Of course there’s still travel ball teams, which creates some conflict for some of the players.

Smyrna Post 14 pitcher Jeremy Carrow against Middletown Post 25 in American Legion action at Smyrna on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“It’s been fun for the kids,” Dulin said. “It gives them another opportunity to play. It’s tough with travel ball and work so we get a lot of kids through the week, but it’s very tough finding enough on the weekend. We’re trying to work through that and trying to have some fun and win some games.”

Dulin stopped coaching wrestling when he entered administration in the Smyrna school district, which meant he was not allowed to coach at the high school anymore.

He has coached in Little League and other youth baseball leagues while his kids were growing up. That allowed him to build relationships with practically this entire Legion team when the players were youths.

When he got out of administration it allowed him to take the position of assistant coach on the Smyrna high varsity team, where he already knew most of the players.

“They’re great kids who I’ve known all my life,” Dulin said.

For Dulin, he could not turn down the chance to be the head coach of this team over the summer.

He will turn 64 in August, so he’s not sure how much coaching he has left in him.

“It’s one more last hurrah,” Dulin said. “I don’t know how much longer I’ll be coaching. This could be my last of it here.

“The thing is there’s no pressure here. I won’t put any pressure on the kids. I just want to see them do well and try to improve. You’re not going to hear any yelling, screaming or arguing out here.”

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