By Keith Cannon/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
SHELBY, N.C. – Tupelo Post 49 stands alone now as the only undefeated team in the American Legion World Series.
But Tupelo coach Kirk Presley is still taking a cautious attitude about that advantage, even after a convincing 8-1 victory over Midland, Mich. in the late game on Sunday night at Floyd Keeter Stadium.
“It’s a good position to be in, but there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played and three other good teams still in the tournament,” he said after his team’s second victory of the day.
Tupelo eliminated Gaffney, S,C., with a 3-1 win in the opening game, postponed from Saturday.
Cody Shrewsbury went 2-for-5 with 5 RBI, including a three-run homer in the third, and pitchers Brandon Woodruff and Ben Aldridge combined for a four-hitter to boost Tupelo (32-9), into a 7 p.m. CST semifinal matchup against Eden Prairie, Minn.
“Our veteran pitchers threw two strong games today,” Presley said. “It was a good day to have both starters go deep in the game.”
Las Vegas takes on Midland, which lost for thd first time in the tournament, at 4 p.m. in the first semifinal.
Post 49 picked up its first run in the second inning, when Woodruff led off with a double to the wall in right field, advanced to second on an error by Midland first baseman Brent Pecour and scored on Shrewsbury’s single through the hole at short.
Then Tupelo broke the game open in a five-run third. Ben Hudspeth drove in a run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, Drew Alford stroked an RBI single and Shrewsbury followed with his three-run blast to deep center field.
“He needed a big day,” Presley said,. “It was great to see him come through like that.” That was more than enough support for Woodruff’s pitching. The right-hander worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first – a checked-swing double down the third base line by Cole Martin, the only hit he allowed, sandwiched between two walks.
Then he retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced, striking out six along the way. Aldridge pitched the eighth and ninth innings.
Shrewsbury drove in his fifth run of the game in the fifth inning. Ben Hudspeth led off with a single and took second on an infield error. He went to third on Drew Alford’s fly out to deep center field and scored on Shrewsbury’s sacrifice fly to center.
Midland picked up its only run in the eighth on an RBI single by Larsen Cronkright.
And Tupelo tacked on a single run in the eighth. Drew Wheeler slammed a pinch-hit triple to right center to lead off the inning and scored on Channing Nanney’s single.
NOTES: The original brackets called for Tupelo to play Las Vegas and Midland to meet Eden Prairie in today’s games. But becaue those two pairings have already taken place in earlier games, the opponents were switched.