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BASEBALL

American Legion notes: Coach Greg Geary 'super proud' of what 52s Patriots accomplished

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Here are the Nebraska high school baseball champions since 2015.

Despite coming up one win short of the American Legion World Series, 52s Patriots coach Greg Geary said he was proud of what his team accomplished.

“I told the boys to empty the tank and see what happens,” he said. “I know they gave it everything they had.”

The team from Millard South finished 40-13 after a 7-4 loss to Five Points Bank (Omaha Creighton Prep). The victory boosted the Junior Jays into the Legion World Series that begins Thursday in Shelby, North Carolina.

It was the fifth game between the teams in the postseason, with the Junior Jays winning three — two in the area tournament and the regional final. The Patriots won the state final and the regional semifinal.

Geary said by the last two games of the regional that his pitching staff was getting thin. Braden Cannon gave the 52s a much-needed complete game in a 9-3 victory Sunday before the Patriots fell in the final.

“Braden going the distance gave us a chance in that last game,” the coach said. “We had the lead but they just coming after us.”

The Patriots led 4-0 but the Junior Jays rallied for the victory to secure their first Legion World Series berth since 2017, when the Junior Jays finished as the national runners-up.

“I told our guys that I was super proud of them,” Geary said. “We gave it our best shot, but Prep is so tough from 1 to 9 in the batting order.”

The coach said he wished the Nebraska representative luck at the World Series.

“We hope they do well,” Geary said. “I think we made them work hard for everything and maybe that will help them in North Carolina.”

No more 52s Patriots

The end of this Legion season also spells the end of the Legion sponsorship for the 52s Patriots.

Millard South graduate and former major leaguer Brian Duensing had sponsored the school’s Legion teams the past 10 years. Coach Greg Geary said he and Duensing agreed it was time to move on.

“Brian and I are really close friends,” the coach said. “We had talked that maybe it was time to hand it off to someone else.”

The team, named after Duensing’s major-league number and Millard South’s nickname, went out on a high note. The varsity, reserve and freshman teams all won Legion state titles.

Duensing was honored for his sponsorship before one of the Patriots’ late-season Legion games.

“We had a nice plaque made up for him and had a good crowd that night,” Geary said. “The way this season went, it was a great tribute to everything he’s done for our program.”

Class B champion

Hickman recently claimed the Legion Class B senior title with a 6-5 victory over Waverly in the final at Broken Bow.

The 2021 champion was able to defend with the help of Eaden Holt, who had a huge game. He belted a grand slam and had five RBIs, which all came at critical times.

Hickman trailed 4-0 in the fourth inning before Holt’s slam tied it. The game then was tied 5-5 in the seventh before Holt’s RBIs single put his team ahead to stay.

The squad is coached by Ted Hair, an assistant during the spring season when Hickman competes as Norris.

Hickman went 4-1 in the tourney, losing only to Columbus Lakeview.

Class C champion

Malcolm defeated two-time defending champion DCB — Dannebrog, Cairo, Boelus — to capture the Legion Class C senior championship at Wisner.

DCB had won the title in 2019 and again in 2021. There were no official Legion state tournaments in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Malcolm, which went through the tourney unbeaten, rolled to an 11-3 win in the final. Connor Zegar struck out 11 to pick up the complete-game win.

Jacob Clarke drove in six for Malcolm, which also won the Legion junior tournament. Malcolm became the fourth Class C team to complete that summer sweep.

“We’re really proud of that sweep,” coach Brandon Rieschick said. “We had 11 players who were on the dual roster (for both teams) so that’s really something.”

It was Malcolm’s first state title since 2016. Three teams — Malcolm, David City and DCB — have each won two state titles in the past six Legion seasons.

Statistics needed

Legion senior coaches are asked to submit their final statistics by Thursday to mike.patterson@owh.com

The lone exception is Five Points Bank (Creighton Prep), which still has some baseball left to play.

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Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. He also reports on horse racing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MPattersonOWH. Phone: 402-444-1350.

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