Brad Powell almost did not play American Legion baseball this summer.
"I came out at the last minute," said Powell, who had planned to golf (scratch handicap) this summer. "But I really wanted to be with the guys. I knew this team was something and I could not leave it."
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Barrington Post 158 also is glad Powell decided to stay with baseball.
Especially Saturday, when he came in to pitch 4 scoreless innings and belt a pair of hits to help lead Barrington to Illinois' American Legion state championship with a 10-7 victory over Galesburg Post 285.
Barrington (41-7) has won 15 in a row and 33 of its last 34 games. It earned a state-best ninth state title and its first since 1993.
Barrington advances to the Midwest regional next week in Terre Haute, Indiana, and will meet the Ohio state champion Thursday.
"I am very excited for the boys, the legion and our community," Barrington coach Nate Gray said. "It has been a great season and a great win today.
"We knew they were going to hit. But we felt very confident in our pitching and hitting today."
Galesburg (36-17) also will qualify for the Midwest regional and will play a team from Wisconsin.
Galesburg trailed 5-4 with one out in the sixth and runners on first and second. Powell threw a wild pitch and then gave up a two-run single.
But he stymied Galesburg after that.
"I was so nervous when I came in," Powell said. "It was such a nerve-wracking situation. Just to have a team like this, it is something special. Fourteen guys fighting for one goal, and that is to be the best."
"I knew we would get the runs back. I had confidence in myself that I could hold them."
And hold them he did.
After the hit, Powell allowed just three baserunners while striking out five.
Powell's teammates came through, just like he expected. Trailing 7-6, Barrington regained the lead for good in its half of the sixth.
Powell led off with a double and scored on Scott Nelson's long triple to center. Nelson was able to score easily on Jake Petersen's RBI single to make is 8-7.
"I was trying to come up big for the team," said Petersen, who had 2 hits and 2 RBI. "They got on for me and I was able to drive them home.
Barrington added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth. Mitch Pfeiffer walked and stole second and went to third on Nelson's single. Pfeiffer came home on Petersen's sacrifice fly.
Nelson followed by stealing second. On the next pitch, he stole third and made it all the way home on a wild pitch.
"I think my hitting carried over well (from Friday)," Nelson said. "And I just tried to do everything I could to get us runs and get us hits."
Barrington scored 2 runs in the first, second and sixth innings.
Dan Kubiuk had an RBI double and Jake Coon had an RBI single in the first inning. Pfeiffer had a sacrifice fly and Nelson an RBI single in the second.
Coon contributed a sacrifice fly and Anthony Lombardi an RBI single in the sixth.
"We hit up and down the lineup today," said Gray, whose team collected 11 hits. "We had some key hits when we were down and came back and took the lead. It was a great job by everyone."