When Greenbelt Post 136 Coach Larry Prange learned of Chaney's 2-1 loss to Disney Bell last Wednesday, he knew what it meant for his American Legion team. He was just a bit disbelieving. "I got the call and was just like, 'Oh, that's great,' " Prange said.
"Then I hung up and thought about it. After about 10 minutes, it dawned on me and I almost said it out loud--'We're going to states.' "
The Chaney loss meant that its six-year reign in the Frank Riley League had come to an end and that, for the first time since 1977, Greenbelt (28-11, 22-6 district) earned a trip to the Maryland American Legion state tournament.
The state's eight-team, double-elimination tournament will take place at McCurdy Field in Frederick Friday through Tuesday. Greenbelt will face the Eastern Shore's representative at noon in Friday's opening round.
Led by a combination of contact hitters (Vince Bartozzi, Andrew Rosen and Ed Cook) and solid pitchers (Rosen, Rob Helig and Andrew Carlson), Greenbelt won its games by producing runs as a team instead of waiting for a few players to provide them. That required not only baseball instincts but a work ethic of team members that went beyond the coach's expectations.
"They love playing baseball," Prange said. "We've played doubleheaders and I've seen players afterward taking batting practice. They always want more."