Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion
Wilmington Post 1 defeats Dubuque County (Iowa) Post 137 to open ALWS 2018.
By Andy Proffet
Austin Colmery acknowledged there was a little bit of pressure when he came to the plate to lead off the bottom of the first inning Thursday in Game 1 of the 2018 American Legion World Series.
The centerfielder for Wilmington (Del.) Post 1 was the first batter from a Delaware team in an ALWS game since 1976. And thanks to his leadoff double, he and his teammates could celebrate the first ALWS victory for a Delaware team since 1967.
Chris Ludman pitched seven shutout innings and Wilmington defeated Dubuque County (Iowa) Post 137, 3-0, as the 92nd edition of the ALWS opened play at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C.
“I was looking for first-pitch fastball, I got it, didn’t like it, was waiting for him to throw it again, he threw it to me again, I gave it a ride,” Colmery said. He advanced to third on Michael Cautillo’s sacrifice bunt and scored as Nate Thomas grounded out.
Wilmington went up 2-0 in the fourth thanks to another leadoff double, this time by Thomas. Eric Ludman singled to advance Thomas, Ludman stole second and Jack Dubecq’s single drove Thomas home.
That 2-0 score looked like it would be enough until Dubuque County’s first two batters in the top of the sixth, Sam Link and T.J. Deardorff, singled. That brought Wil Courtney to the plate as the potential go-ahead run with no outs.
“I went out to talk to the guys, just wanted to calm the nerves a little bit, give them the confidence that we’re going to get out of this,” Wilmington coach Brent Treml said. “In regionals, we put the same play on and were able to get a double play; here, Chris was able to pitch out of it on his own.”
Indeed, Chris Ludman struck out Courtney and Kyle Lehmann and forced a groundout by Jackson Bennett to end the threat.
“I saw the one guy trying to bunt, so I was just trying to let him get the bunt down. Once I got him to two strikes, I was just thinking strike him out,” Chris Ludman said. “And the next guy, I was trying to get him to roll into a double play, fortunate enough to strike him out too. That’s just my mindset, trying to get ground balls.”
Wilmington added an insurance run when Dubecq’s double drove in Eric Ludman.
Chris Ludman gave up three hits and struck out five in earning the win. Dubuque County’s Dylan Gotto took the loss.
Treml said opening pool play with a victory helps the team’s confidence, but there is some work to do.
“We have to clean up our defense. This happened to us our first game in regionals, too, we didn’t play a good clean defensive game, we were still able to win 1-0 on a walkoff error by the other team, actually,” Treml said.
“All the firsts are out of the way, now tomorrow will be a bigger comfort level.”
Both teams play again Friday as pool play continues, with Wilmington facing Gonzales (La.) Post 81 and Dubuque County meeting Braintree (Mass.) Post 86.
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