Brooklawn American Legion Fought to the End in Regional Competition

Brooklawn American Legion Fought to the End in Regional Competition
In many years, Brooklawn is considered among the favorites in both state and often regional Senior American League Baseball competition.
 
This was not one of those years.
 
Yet the most successful team in New Jersey history ended up making a late run, earning a surprising 30th state tournament championship and advancing to the final four of the Region 2 tournament before being ousted on Saturday.
 
Still, coach Dennis Barth has to be proud of a team that played its best baseball when it counted. The season finally ended with Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Vienna Post 18 of Virginia in what basically amounted to a semifinal game in Asheboro, North Carolina.
 
Brooklawn’s only losses in this double elimination tournament were to Vienna, which also lost twice on the final day to champion Randolph County Post 45 of North Carolina.
 
The winner of Region 2 qualified for the American Legion World Series in Shelby North Carolina. This was Randolph County’s third consecutive year in the regionals.
 
Brooklawn began the regionals with an 8-7 loss to Vienna, but then bounced back beat Hamburg NY, 9-3, scoring eight of the runs in the first three innings.
 
The next day Brooklawn stayed alive by eliminating Wilmington, NC, 8-3 as Joseph Rappaport got the win with four innings of two-hit shutout relief. Rappaport is a recent graduate of Highland.
 
Nick Nocella, a 2018 Gloucester Catholic graduate, went 2 for 3 with a home run and 2 RBI and Paul VI rising senior Zach Cerveny was 1 for 1 with a double and 2 RBI.
 
Brooklawn was then eliminated with a 6-2 loss to Vienna, VA. Third baseman Colin Taylor, a recent graduate of Triton, and catcher Dustin Bellis, a rising senior at Audubon, had the RBI for Brooklawn.
 
For a team that finished second in its own division and had to win the final day of the Region 4 tournament just to earn one of the eighth berths in the state tournament, Brooklawn made quite a run.
 
Brooklawn overcame a 5-3 deficit to Allentown to win 10-5 in the Region 4 consolation game at Camden County College to advance to the states. West Deptford won the District title.
 
Brooklawn then earned its 30th state championship by beating defending champion Broad Street Park, 3-1, in the final.
 
The state tournament was an affirmation of the strength of South Jersey American Legion baseball. This year there were only seven teams in the Camden County American Legion League, but two of them, regular season champion West Deptford, and Brooklawn made it to the semifinals of the state tournament.
 
To show how difficult it is to win the states, West Deptford had gone 3-0 to advance to the semifinals before losing to Broad Street Park 5-2. It was still a great season for West Deptford, which beat Brooklawn four of five games this year.
 
Still, Brooklawn, which won the American Legion World Series as recently as 2014, persevered. There have been more talented Brooklawn teams in the past, but this one was resilient and showed why it has earned a reputation as one of the top American Legion programs in the country.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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