SHELBY, N.C. — Brooklawn, New Jersey, has been the dominant force in American Legion baseball over the past four years.
Jesuit-based Retif Oil seems to be their kryptonite.
Catcher Trent Forshag lined a two run single through the shortstop-third base hole with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning Monday, lifting Retif past the two-time defending champs 4-3.
The win sends Retif into the championship game against Chapin-Newberry, South Carolina, at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Forshag’s heroics came just minutes after it appeared that he had thrown the game away.
With the game tied at two, Brooklawn had runners on first and second with nobody out in the top of the 10th. Lucas Rollins was at the plate trying to sacrifice the runners up a base. His bunt was fielded by Forshag, who threw the ball over the head of first baseman Daniel Edmund. Sean Breen scored what seemed likely to be the game winning run.
However, Hayden Fuentes, in his fifth inning of relief, got Isaiah Easterling to line out. Mason Mayfield, who will start Tuesday’s title game, replaced Fuentes and struck out back-to-back hitters to keep the deficit at one.
“You have to really clear your mind,” Forshag said. “When Mason came out, we all are very confident in him and his abilities. We knew that we could get out of the jam. When we got up, we go batter by batter, pitch by pitch. I asked coach Latino if he wanted me to take a strike. He said no, I want you to hit a double and win this thing.”
When Retif won the 2012 World Series title, they did so by beating Brooklawn in the final game 4-0. Monday’s game was sloppier, and much more dramatic.
Brooklawn wasted no time opening the scoring.
The first batter of the game, Fran Kinsey, reached on an infield single and moved to second when shortstop Nick Ray, who probably should have just held onto the ball after ranging up the middle and doing a 360-degree spin, threw past first baseman Scott Crabtree.
After a ground ball advanced the runner to third base, Kinsey scored on a roller to third. He alertly waited to break for the plate until the throw went across the diamond, and once the throw headed in the direction of first, Kinsey sprinted home to beat the relay by a step.
It was a Brooklawn miscue that helped tie the game in the bottom of the third.
Harrison Daste started the inning with a harmless grounder to second base, but Sean Breen had difficulty getting the ball out of his glove, and by the time he had it comfortably, Daste was safe at first.
A one-out single by Brandon Briuglio put runners on the corners, and that brought up Ben Hess, Retif’s hero for much of the tournament. Hess hit a roller to third base that Brooklawn tried to turn into an inning ending double play. They got a force out at second base, but the relay to first was half-a-step late, and Daste scored to tie the game.
A forgettable top of the fourth inning cost Retif a run. Lucas Rollins led off for Brooklawn with a walk, and moved to second on a passed ball. He was on third base with two outs when Alex Krug’s shot up the middle deflected off of pitcher David Boh right to Briuglio. The second basemen couldn’t handle the carom, and Rollins scored to give Brooklawn a 2-1 lead.
After getting out of trouble in the top of the inning, Retif evened the score in the bottom of the sixth. Hess singled to start the rally, and Forshag’s blooper fell in front of right fielder Zack Strom, putting runners on the corners. Crabtree followed with a deep fly ball to center field that was run down, but it easily scored Hess to make it 2-2.
Trailing 3-2 with one out in the bottom of the 10th, Retif’s Nick Ray singled, and Briuglio walked.
Dan Wilson replaced Dante Scafidi on the mound for Brooklawn. Scafidi had pitched all 9.1 innings to that point, striking out 10 in the process.
Wilson got Hess to hit a soft fly ball to shallow left field that Rollins reacted late on, still got to, but failed to catch. That loaded the bases for Forshag.
Connor Maginnis pinch ran for Briuglio, and there may have been a play at the plate on the game-winning single, but the relay throw was dropped.
“We didn’t play particularly well at all,” Latino said. “Four errors that led to all three of their runs, but you have to be able to overcome those type of things. As rare as it is to see us with four errors in a game, I’m happy with the fact we overcame the adversity and were able to get it done.”
Retif will face Chapin-Newberry for a second time in the tournament, with the winner celebrating a World Series title. No team from South Carolina has won the Legion World Series since 1936.
Chapin-Newberry’s only loss all season came against Retif 5-2 on Saturday. They scored one run in the eighth inning and two in the ninth to beat Medford, Oregon, 4-3 in Monday’s first semi-final.
With rain in the forecast, the majority of the Retif team joined the grounds crew in covering the field before heading to the locker room.
AMERICAN LEGION WORLD SERIES
Tuesday’s game will be on ESPNU.
Medford, Ore. 3, Brooklawn, N.J. 2
Midland, Mich. 12, Cromwell, Conn. 1
Waipahu, Hawaii 5, Millard, Neb. 4
Retif Oil 2, Cromwell, Conn. 1
Medford, Ore. 3, Millard, Neb. 2
Chapin-Newberry, S.C. 2, Midland, Mich. 1
Medford, Ore. 2, Waipahu, Hawaii 1
Retif Oil 5, Chapin-Newberry, S.C. 2
Brooklawn, N.J. 15, Millard, Neb. 1
Chapin-Newberry, S.C. 7, Cromwell, Conn. 6
Brooklawn, N.J. 3, Waipahu, Hawaii 2
Retif Oil 2, Midland, Mich. 1
Chapin-Newberry, S.C. 4, Medford, Ore. 3
Retif Oil 4, Brooklawn, N.J. 3, 10 innings
Championship: Retif Oil vs. Chapin-Newberry, S.C., 6 p.m.