American Legion baseball: Petaluma’s stirring run ends game shy of title

By PETER FOURNIER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

It was a good run that nearly ended with a miracle for the Petaluma Leghorns American Legion baseball team.

The Leghorns blasted through the losers’ bracket, but lost in the championship game of the American Legion World Series to Brooklawn, N.J., 10-0 on Tuesday night in Shelby, N.C.

It is Brooklawn’s third Legion World Series title.

The path to the title game wasn’t smooth for Petaluma (37-15), which fought off elimination in every game after an 8-5 loss to Gonzales, La. in the opener.

The Leghorns played with their survival on the line in four straight games to reach the championship game, where Brooklawn turned out to be too much.

Petaluma actually defeated Brooklawn 14-4 on Monday. That was the New Jersey team’s only loss in the tournament. Had Brooklawn won that game, it would have earned the crown one night earlier. The Leghorn win made Tuesday’s play a championship round of action between three teams with one loss in the double-elimination event.

In the first game of the day, the Leghorns cruised to a 8-2 win over Waipahu, Hawaii in a game that started at 2 p.m.

Petaluma then played Brooklawn almost immediately after the completion of that game 5:30 p.m.

Brooklawn starting and winning pitcher Mike Shawaryn finished the World Series with a 0.75 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 24 innings.

A University of Maryland-commit who was selected in the in the 32nd round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Kansas City Royals, Shawaryn smothered the Leghorns offense with a four-hit shutout, striking out eight.

“We just knew that’s nobody’s going to be able to get us unless you’re a Division 1 prospect, like what happened tonight,” Petaluma assistant coach Spencer Finkbohner said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow but it’s nice to finish second place among 4,000 teams in America.”

Petaluma had its chances in the championship game against Shawaryn.

With two runners in scoring position in the fifth inning, Shawaryn got Charlie Parnow to strike out swinging and then whiffed Vinnie Albano. Brooklawn ran away after that, forcing the game to be called via the 10-run rule in the seventh inning.

Santa Rosa Junior College freshman Weston Bryan finished his final game as a Leghorn without the title. He knew the road from the start of the tournament was uphill, but they weren’t fazed.

“We had to overcome adversity to win our first game and we got used to it,” Bryan said. “After that, we had to overcome we just carried ourselves to where are weand we did well. We hit a hot streak.”

A Casa Grande graduate, Bryan red-shirted for the Bear Cubs last season, but will play with some of his Leghorn teammates on the college team next season.

“It’d be great to have a state championship next year,” Bryan said.

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