Berryhill hosting 'the best baseball around' at this week's regional – Midland Daily News

Berryhill hosting 'the best baseball around' at this week's regional – Midland Daily News

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Berryhill’s Zack Parker attempts to turn a double play during Friday’s winners’ bracket final of the American Legion Baseball state tournament in Mount Pleasant, July 29, 2022.
Gladwin Post 171’s Blaise Millar takes a cut during Friday’s winners’ bracket final of the American Legion Baseball state tournament in Mount Pleasant, July 29, 2022.
Berryhill’s Al Warner fouls off a pitch during Friday’s winners’ bracket final of the American Legion Baseball state tournament in Mount Pleasant, July 29, 2022.
Gladwin’s Tyler McKinstry delivers a pitch during Friday’s winners’ bracket final of the American Legion Baseball state tournament in Mount Pleasant, July 29, 2022.
For local fans of American Legion Baseball, the wait is finally over.
On Wednesday, the ALB Great Lakes Region tournament will return to Northwood University, marking the first time since 2016 – and fifth time overall – that Berryhill Post 165 will host a regional tourney. And Nels Cronkright, chairman of the Berryhill Baseball Committee, thinks that this week’s tournament will be worth the wait.
“I think it’s some of the best baseball around, when you take a look at how many people who played Legion ball are now are in the major leagues. The major leagues have given a lot of money to Legion ball, because so many guys (who played American Legion Baseball) are now in the majors,” Cronkright noted. “I think you will see a pretty good caliber of baseball going on out there.”
As the host team, Berryhill received an automatic bid into the regional tournament, while Gladwin Post 171 will represent Michigan as the state champion. Also competing in the tournament will be Illinois state champion Moline Post 246, Indiana state champion Muncie Post 19, Ohio state champion Yeager Benson Post 199 (Harrison, Ohio), Wisconsin state champion Manitowoc Post 88, Illinois state runner-up Aviston Post 1239, and Wisconsin state runner-up Eau Claire Post 53.
According to Cronkright, the top priority of the host team is to provide a good venue and a good time for all involved.
“We’ve done this four times before, and each time you learn something new,” he said. “The base thing is to make sure the players really enjoy themselves and have a great experience. You want to make sure they have a good playing surface, which Northwood has, and you want to make sure it’s a great experience for the players and for their parents.
“Just about every parent will come to this tournament, because now you’re talking about being one of the top 64 teams out of 4,000 (nationwide),” he added.
The double-elimination tournament will kick off Wednesday with a 9:30 a.m. game between Aviston and Eau Claire, followed by a 12:30 p.m. game between Moline and Manitowoc, followed by a 4 p.m. game between Gladwin and Muncie.
Prior to Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. game between Berryhill and Yeager Benson, the opening ceremony will be held, during which Midland’s Men of Music men’s chorus will perform the national anthem, all of the teams will be introduced, and the ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by members of Berryhill’s 2009 ALB World Series champion team.
Cost of admission is $5 per day or $15 for the entire tournament, and Berryhill will provide concessions such as hot dogs, bratwursts, coney dogs, sloppy joes, and assorted beverages for purchase.
“We’ve got a good committee, and a lot of guys do a lot of work to put this tournament on, and it’s done well,” Cronkright said.
Asked what he is most looking forward to about this week, Cronkright replied, “I think just the atmosphere.”
“I like to watch the excitement on the players’ faces, and I like to watch good, quality baseball. It’s just fun,” he said. “The players are going to lay it all out on the line, knowing that this might be their last opportunity to play the game of baseball. A lot of guys are going to be out there really working hard, because they know that, sooner or later, it’s going to be over.”
The Great Lakes Region tournament will continue with four games on Thursday, three games on Friday, two games on Saturday, and the championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m., with the if-necessary game to follow at 4 p.m. The regional champion will advance to the ALB World Series in Shelby, N.C., Aug. 11-16.
For a complete schedule of the Great Lakes Region tournament, go to https://www.legion.org/baseball/256467/2022-american-legion-baseball-regional-field-set
Fred Kelly is a 1987 graduate of Coleman High School and earned a B.S. from Central Michigan University in 1993 and an M.A. from CMU in 1996. He enjoys playing softball as well as other outdoor activities, volunteering at schools, reading, and spending time with his family. He has won numerous awards from various organizations for sportswriting and column-writing.

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