CHARLESTON — Talent is important, but so is the will to win.
The Danville Post 210 Speakers proved that to be true on Sunday afternoon at Coaches Stadium in Charleston as they rallied to be Beverly-Lowell, the state champions from Ohio, 14-6 and 4-3 in the winner-take-all championship game of the Great Lakes Regional.
“I’ve had more talented team, but I’ve never had a team play together like this one,’’ said Danville manager Allan Shepherd. “This group just plays so well together.’’
And where does that come from?
“It’s the players,’’ Shepherd said. “Chase (Vinson), Ernest (Plummer) and Logan (Spicer) won’t let them get down, and they don’t quit.’’
After reaching the winner-take-all game the last two seasons, losing to Midland (Mich.) Berryhill both times, this time around, Danville completed its mission and the Post 210 Speakers booked their trip to Shelby, N.C., for the 2019 American Legion World Series.
“It doesn’t matter if its the first time or the last time, being able to make it is special,’’ said first baseman Chase Vinson, who has been a member of four straight Danville teams that advanced to the Great Lakes Regional. “It’s so much better being on this side with that banner and that trophy.’’
Shepherd echoed those sentiments as the top teams in the regional get a trophy and banner. The only difference is the wording on the trophy and banner.
“It is sweeter because of our previous attempts,’’ Shepherd said. “I told (assistant coach) Tyler McKenzie on the way down here (Charleston), that we’ve got a couple of those runner-up banners and we didn’t need any more.’’
Danville came into Sunday’s action needing two wins over Beverly-Lowell to claim the double-elimination tournament. Post 210 had lost to Beverly-Lowell 16-15 on Friday.
In the true fashion of Speakers baseball this summer, Danville capped its title with a two-out, walkoff, bases-loaded infield single from Trevor Davis.
“It always has to be drama-filled for us,’’ said Danville shortstop Ernest Plummer, who went 8-for-8 in Sunday’s championship games. “This was like we have done all year. We told everyone to treat this like any other game.
“We knew that we had enough to come back and win.’’
That mentality didn’t change when Beverly-Lowell tied the winner-take-all championship game with a two-out single from Nate Brothers in the top of the seventh.
“I kind of knew we would get a walkoff,’’ Plummer said. “It would have been nice to finish it the top of the seventh, but we knew we could score that last run.’’
Plummer led off with his eighth hit, but Beverly-Lowell got Kotah Broeker to hit into a double play.
And while most of the people wearing the blue shirts for Beverly-Lowell were thinking about extra innings, the orange-and-green clad Speakers had other ideas.
“They scored their run with two outs, so I kept thinking that we would do the same to win this thing,’’ said Chase Rademacher, who gave up the run and ultimately was the winning pitcher for Danville. “I knew I had to get on base for my team after giving up the run.’’
Rademacher stroked a single to left and Vinson followed with a single to right.
“I knew once Vinson got on that something good was going to happen,’’ Shepherd said.
Beverly-Lowell elected to intentionally walk Spicer, who was 2-for-3 in the contest with a solo homer in the second.
“They walked Logan, which was absolutely the right call, but when you walk Logan to get to Trevor Davis,’’ Shepherd said. “I will take that. I knew Trevor would put the ball in play.’’
Davis, who had been 1-for-3, laced the first pitch he saw from Beverly-Lowell pitcher Brett Gandee down the third-base line.
Kurt Taylor made a remarkable stop and he attempted to beat Vinson to third base for the force out. Both players dove for the bag and Vinson was there first. Rademacher touched home and the celebration ensued down the first-base line with Davis being swarmed under by his teammates.
“It’s very tense,’’ Davis said. “I just wanted to put the ball in play and help my team win.
“My approach was simple — see ball, hit ball.’’
But, that was only half of the play. Vinson’s sprint from second to third was also very important.
“It was a hard-hit ball and (Taylor) did his job,’’ Vinson said. “The kid made a great stop and it was a bang-bang play.’’
Shepherd pointed out that Vinson’s baseball intelligence was also a factor.
“Vinson used his baseball smarts,’’ Shepherd said. “He made the right read and slid to the inside part of the bag.’’
Just as important on Sunday was the pitching performances from Dalton Dalbey, who got the win in the first game, and Elijah Harden, who started and went five innings, in the winner-take-all game.
Danville will play Destrehan, La., Post 366 in the opening game of the American Legion World Series on Thursday in Shelby, N.C.
First pitch is set for 9 a.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN3 — an online broadcast.