Eau Claire (WQOW) -- After a dramatic Regional Tournament in La Crosse and Chippewa Falls, the Eau Claire Legion baseball team rolled through the competition in Kimberly, finishing 4-1, and winning the team's first State Championship since 1986.
Team Pizza Hut's offense and pitching are a big reason why they're still playing - Post 53 put up 32 runs over their 5 games, and threw 3 shutouts, including Adrian Bethel's 9-inning shutout of Oshkosh in the title game. Now they prepare for the Great Lakes Regional in Napoleon, Ohio, but not before they get a chance to celebrate this past week.
"Winning a State Championship at any level in any sport is really something that people strive to do and being able to come out and do it for the first time in 31 years in Eau Claire, for this 19U level, it's something that a lot of us were looking forward to, that's what we wanted to do."
"Just do it for coach Faanes, it's something that he's talked about, it's something that he's been so close to getting before, but just something that he hasn't quite got to accomplish. Now doing it for him and seeing how happy he was and the smile on his face when we were done was just something special."
"I think it means a lot for the Eau Claire baseball community in general, honestly. I look at American Legion baseball - to win something like this is a culmination of these guys in our little league programs and our Babe Ruth programs, and our high school programs, and we get here, everything they've done culminated with them and a state championship. The support we've got from our communities and the thank you's and all that - it obviously mean a lot to a lot of people."
Eau Claire leaves for Ohio tomorrow morning at 5 a.m., and will open Regional play against the host team, Napoleon. That game starts Wednesday night around 7 p.m.