By Dan Hardenbrook
The Newberry American Legion Baseball team picked up their first home win of the 2023 summer season, defeating the Soo Canada Junior Black Sox in a fast paced and crisp 3-2 victory last week at the Curt Knierim Field. The hometown team has found plenty of success going head-to-head with the neighbors to the north, as the win completed the summer sweep of the home and home series that saw the two teams face off north of the border 2 weeks ago.
Strong pitching, solid defense, and a quick start offensively carried the momentum for the Warriors to the win.
Matthew Rahilly somehow continues to improve on the mound. After holding opponents to less than two earned runs per game and striking out nearly 10 batters per appearance during the recent high school season, Rahilly has been even more dominant this summer.
He picked up right where he left off last time he faced the Black Sox, nearly throwing a no hitter in the win. Rahilly gave up just two walks in the first six innings and entered the 7th and final inning with 14 strikeouts. That’s when the Black Sox finally broke through, using a perfectly placed bunt to pick up their first hit.
With the Indians on top 3-0 at the time, the Black Sox applied pressure and Newberry’s strong defense gave way, allowing two errors that loaded the bases before scorching a legit base hit into center field to cut the lead down to 3-2. Rahilly had just 3 pitches left before hitting the daily 105 pitch count limit, and he came through with one final out to secure the win.
He got all the run support he needed early as the top two hitters got things going right off the bat. All Conference outfielder Ethan Salter continued his magical year, reaching on a double to get the game started. Another former All Conference winner showed no rust, as 2022 graduate Jacob Brown also reached base. Those two would eventually come around to score to make it 2-0 after the opening inning. Rahilly would help his own cause later, reaching on a hit and stealing his way to third before coming in on a passed ball that made the lead at that time 3-0.
The team is taking the holiday week off before returning to the home field one last time next week to wrap up the summer season. Newberry will host the EUP Junior Wood Ducks, whom they battled twice in close losses earlier this summer.