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Post 182 juniors cruise to state championship

Photo by John Millikan

Photo by John Millikan

ALPHARETTA -- This was easy.

Almost too easy.

But the kids who play for the Post 182 American Legion under-17 team in Lee County will take it. Why not? They took everything else.

They not only won the Georgia American Legion state title, but they ripped everyone they played over the weekend in Alpharetta, where they outscored their three opponents, 34-6.

They culminated the weekend with a 12-0 mercy-rule five-inning victory in Monday's title game against Albany's Post 30, which fought its way back from the losers bracket to make the final.

Robert Tyler, a rising junior at Crisp County High School, went the distance for the shutout, allowing just four hits while striking out nine. He didn't give up a walk.

But the man of the hour -- and the tournament -- was third baseman Khrion McLain, a rising junior at Deerfield-Windsor. McLain was named the MVP of the state tournament after batting .909 (10 for 12) and driving in 12 runs in three games. He also stole six bases.

"That's a weekend, ain't it? He put on a show,'' Post 182 coach Darin Denney said. "His last out was a line drive to the shortstop.''

No one could stop McLain or Post 182, which opened the championship game with an eight-run first inning and then cruised to the title.

"It was a team effort,'' Denney said. "They hit 1-through-9 in the lineup. We're kind of evenly matched (with Post 30). They beat us early in the season. It's just whoever has the pitching that day.''

Still, Denney wasn't surprised that his kids scored 34 runs in three games.

"We've hit the ball all year,'' he said. "We've been putting up 10 to 12 runs in every game for about three or four weeks now. We've got three or four kids who will play at the next level, in college. Most of the kids on our team were freshmen.''

Daulton Dedge, a first baseman and rising sophomore at Terrell Academy, drove in three runs in the title game. Left fielder Dillon Hughes, a rising junior at Southland Academy, and catcher Jackie Bell, a rising sophomore at Lee County High, both hit over .500 for the weekend.

Post 182 went 22-6 for the season, which is stunning considering Lee County never had an under-17 American Legion team until this summer. Denney knew the kids, because most of them played on his traveling team for the past two years -- the Lee County Longhorns.

"We just got tired of wearing red and black like everyone in Lee County and named the team the Longhorns,'' Denney said. "Our uniforms were orange, the same color orange as the University of Texas. ''

Denney wasn't surprised by his team's success.

"This team (Post 182) was new, but I've been around these kids for the last two years,'' he said. "We've got a good group. It's just a great group of kids. It's a joy to go to practice every day.''