For the first time in its history, the American Legion team from Post 247 in Dawsonville is heading to the state tournament.
The tournament is scheduled to be held at Middle Georgia College in Cochran, and will begin tomorrow and run through Sunday.
The district tournament was held in Canton at Cherokee High School last weekend. Post 247 had a tough road to make it to the tournament. The team played on four consecutive days, from Thursday through Sunday. The team got into the state tournament with two wins over Conyers with scores of 12-7 and 9-5.
“Everybody did their part,” head coach Kasey Wilson said. “We hit the ball well. If we play like we did against Conyers we can beat anybody.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time a senior American Legion team from Dawsonville has ever qualified for the state tournament. I think it is also the first time they have ever won a district game.”
Post 247 does not know who they will play yet in Cochran.
Tournament brackets will be drawn today and were not available at press time.
In order to qualify, Post 247 had to finish in the top five in the area. Despite dropping close contests to Douglasville, 10-4, and Loganville, 10-5, the team rebounded to pick up two wins to get in.
Despite the scores, Dawsonville’s two losses were close games.
Against Douglasville, the team was down 6-4 when the rains came, delaying the game for over an hour.
When play resumed Douglasville added four runs to forge ahead 10-4.
“I was really disappointed because I felt we could have won the game,” said Wilson.
“After the rain delay we came out just a little flat. They took advantage of it. You can’t do that against good teams,” he added.
Against Loganville, who’s high school team captured the AAAA state championship last season, the team left 12 runners on base in the 10-5 loss.
“We just couldn’t get a big hit to get anyone in. We left runners in scoring position all game,” Wilson said.
Several of Wilson’s players played well. Jacob Barr, a Dawson County player, drove in six RBIs against Conyers.
“Jacob hit the ball really hard in both Conyers games,” Wilson said.
Also having big games at the plate were Sonny Pham from Lumpkin County, Kevin Kinsey from Pickens County and Dawson County Tiger Austin Lark.
Not only did the team hit the ball well against Conyers, but they got two outstanding efforts on the mound from Chase Gilreath and Adam Heykens.
Gilreath pitched seven innings in the second Conyers game and allowed only two runs to get the win.
Heykens threw strikes all night to pick up the win against Conyers in the first game.
“This was great recognition for our kids,” Wilson said. “There were college coaches watching this past weekend and there will be a lot in Cochran watching our kids play.”
Wilson added, “We practiced hard all week and obviously we had a great return in qualifying for state. If we practice like we did this past week our guys can beat anybody.”
E-mail Pam Jacobs at email@example.com.