SHELBY, N.C. — Bouncing back has been one of the traits of the Danville Post 210 Speakers during their postseason run.
In the Division Tournament, Danville lost to Mattoon, 8-0, but the Speakers came back with three straight wins to advance to state.
Then in the state tournament, Post 210 lost to Barrington on the final day, but the Speakers came back to beat the Broncos and advance to the Great Lakes Regional.
Last weekend in Charleston at the Great Lakes Regional, Danville suffered a 16-15 loss to Beverly-Lowell. But keeping with this trend, the Speakers came back with three straight wins, including twice on Sunday against Beverly-Lowell to reach the American Legion World Series.
So when Danville got hammered by Destrehan (La.) 12-1 on Thursday, it was only inevitable the Speakers would bounce back and they did.
Post 210 used a 5-run first inning, along with a solo home run from Jake Stipp — only the second of his career — to defeated Albuquerque (N.M.) 13-2 at Keeter Field in Shelby, N.C.
“We have kind of done that all year,’’ said Danville Post 210 manager Allan Shepherd. “We get smacked in the mouth and then they respond. I think their No. 1 attribute as a team is that they have a short memory.’’
It also didn’t hurt that Post 210 took advantage of some walks and some errors from the Albuquerque team in the first inning.
Danville sent 11 batters to the plate, scoring five times on just two hits to take a lead that the Speakers would never relinquish.
“A first inning like that is always key to a win,’’ said Stipp, who drew one of the three walks issued by Albuquerque starter Tyler Wilson. “We were taking our walks and we also had a couple of really good hits by (Logan) Spicer and (Lucas) Hofer.
“We wanted to put ourselves in a position to make it to Monday.’’
With the win on Friday, Danville sets up a winner-take-all game against Festus (Mo.) on Sunday with the winner advancing to Monday’s semifinals and the loser being eliminated.
While the offensive outburst was a big turnaround from Thursday’s loss, it was supplemented by a very good performance on the mound by right-hander Ryan Drayer.
Albuquerque’s Benito Garcia hit a 2-run homer in the first off of Drayer, but the Post 13 squad from New Mexico only got one more baserunner to third base in the contest.
“Ryan settled in after that first inning,’’ Shepherd said. “He backed off his fastball a little in the 2nd inning, and found his off-speed pitches. He threw it as well as I’ve seen him throw it this year.’’
Which was a pleasant surprise after he lasted just three innings last Sunday against Beverly-Lowell and he only had four days of rest.
“I was actually very excited to throw,’’ Drayer said. “My arm felt good and I was glad that I was able to help my team bounce back the way that we did.
“This is a big win for us and it’s huge for our momentum going into the next one.’’
Drayer improved to 9-1 on the summer for Post 210 and he went the distance, allowing the Speakers to rest their bullpen.
“I knew that my team needed me and I just went out and threw the best game that I could throw,’’ he said. “After that first inning home run, I got a little frustrated, but I just had to regroup, hit my spots and use all of my pitches.
“I was a little nervous, but that quickly went away. My teammates got me a lead and it was all about me doing my job on the mound.’’
Stipp admitted that nerves was a small factor in Thursday’s loss to Post 210.
“But, that team (Destrehan, La.) was really good,’’ he said. “We just came out a little flat and they did their part.
“That’s what we had to do today against Albuquerque and we did.’’
One of the happiest moments for Danville came in the third when Stipp cracked a solo home run over the right-field fence. It was his first home run this season and only his second ever in three years of legion baseball.
“The only other home run that I hit came two years ago with the juniors,’’ Stipp admitted. “It was a pretty good feeling, knowing that I had a bunch of people back home watching it on television.’’
But Stipp wasn’t going to smile as he rounded the bases. He was determined to not show up his opponents.
So how did the home run trot go?
“It was mostly off instincts, but I’m not going to lie, I’ve practiced it a few times playing Wiffle ball in the backyard,’’ Stipp said. “Off the bat, I wasn’t sure if was going to get out, but once it went over, I started the trot.’’
Shepherd said it was the perfect time for Stipp to hit his first homer of the season.
“We executed very well today on offense,’’ he said. “We got guys on base, we moved them over and got them in. That’s our game.’’
Danville gets today off at the American Legion World Series before playing Festus (Mo.) at noon on Sunday with a berth in the semifinals on the line.
A watch party will be held on Sunday at Danville Post 210.