American Legion Gallatin Post 17 are state champions.
Post 17 defeated Portland 5-1 in a winner-take-all game Monday night. The state title marks the first for 17U and the program’s ninth in history.
“Our guys should feel good about what they have accomplished this season and throughout the state tournament,” 17U coach Mark Wilson said. “We faced quality competition all season and all weekend — winning was not easy.”
Post 17 navigated its way through Warren County, Columbia, Gallatin Post 17 (Wilson County), and Portland to claim the top prize.
“When you get a group of guys that stay together, it leads to success,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of guys that play a lot of different places during the summer, but when they get the opportunity to come back and play for Post 17, they do that — that is what makes for a good team. Any success that we have is based on our seniors and their leadership.”
Post 17 features five rising seniors for the Green Wave baseball team — Cade Martin, WA Douglas, Eli Siltman, Thomas Harrison, and Jacob Smith.
“These guys are easy to coach,” Wilson added.
After dropping game one 13-12, Post 17 turned to Carter Whitefield for game two on the bump.
“We were hoping to get a couple of innings out of him, but he was in the zone,” Wilson said. “He capitalized on an opportunity for a huge lifetime memory.”
Whitefield pitched 6 2/3 innings for Post 17, surrendering four hits while striking out seven on 102 pitches.
Senior Cade Martin recorded the final out for Post 17, forcing a pop out to the right field.
Over four days, Gallatin Post 17 showed its ability to find pitchers (WA Douglas, Thomas Harrison, Jacob Smith, Carter Whitefield, Ju when they needed them.
“It’s not always about throwing complete games; sometimes it’s one, two, three innings of clean baseball,” Wilson said. “I think they know they can come out and do that just by throwing strikes.”
Post 17 ends its season at 27-5 overall.
“There is a laundry list of people that are responsible for this, Greg Johnson, our parks department, Charlie Jackson, but without a doubt, this doesn’t happen without Brett Thaler. I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else.”