SPARTA — When Knox County Royals coach Mike King addressed his team after Friday’s 5-4 victory, the first thing he said was, “Back to back!”
The Royals, from Mount Vernon Post 136, responded from a 4-1 deficit to defeat Prospect Post 368 and claim their second straight Division 6 American Legion championship.
For the second straight year, Mount Vernon swept all four games of the tournament to win the title. This time, it took a gutsy effort.
Tyler Berger, pinch-running in the eighth inning after a single by Alex Arck, worked around the bases on singles by Nick Hoar and Mitch Sellers. He scored the game winner on a Kory Shackle sacrifice fly to shallow center.
Shawn Maxwell responded to his early jitters. Maxwell, who went the distance, gave up four runs on seven hits in the first three innings. However, by the fourth inning, he settled down and starting getting outs. Maxwell allowed just three baserunners in the final six innings to shut down Prospect’s potent offense.
“I’m really proud of Shawn,” said King. “He was shaky those first three innings. But he pulled through. He started hitting his spots. He didn’t walk anyone. He’s a workhorse. He wants the ball.”