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Southern Nevada Blue Sox seek national title at Legion World Series

Trever Berg, David Hudleson, Ryne Nelson and J.J. Smith played key roles in leading Basic High to the state baseball championship in 2016, the first for the school since 1987.

All four are back with Basic’s summer program, the Southern Nevada Blue Sox, after a year in college and looking to continue to make memories.

With Berg, Hudleson, Nelson and Smith joining the core of Basic’s 2017 state title team, the Blue Sox are looking for a national championship in the American Legion World Series, which begins Thursday in Shelby, North Carolina.

“This group was special, special from two years ago when they won the first state title,” Blue Sox coach Scott Baker said. “This group has been so together and united as a family. I’ve been very lucky to have a group like this, for sure.”

The Blue Sox (54-7) play Creighton Prep (Nebraska) in their first game at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Nelson, who plays at Oregon, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Western Regional tournament. He’s the team’s shortstop and No. 3 hitter and was the winning pitcher in the regional title game.

“He is our MVP; he’s everything for us,” Baker said of Nelson. “I’m very fortunate and lucky that he’s giving back to the program and wants to be part of it.”

Nelson is batting .503 with four homers and 71 RBIs this summer. On the mound, he’s 4-1 with a 1.43 ERA. Baker said he’d rely on Berg, Nelson and Shane Spencer as starters in the tournament. Nelson can’t pitch until Friday because he threw more than 75 pitches in the region final, but the rest of the team’s staff is available.

Berg (4-0, 2.01) and Spencer (7-1, 0.54) have pitched well in the postseason, and there is depth beyond the three starters.

“Our bullpen is extremely polished, a lot of experience,” Baker said. “We’re pretty deep, pitching wise.”

The team also has a deep lineup, led by UNLV-bound first baseman Jack Wold. Wold is batting .508 with 21 homers and 114 RBIs.

“Jack executes with the best of them,” Baker said. “He’s just kind of special in that four hole for us. Jack, he does everything possible to get that run in.”

The World Series features two four-team pools, with the top two in each pool advancing to Monday’s semifinals. The Blue Sox play Shrewsbury (Massachusetts) at 4:30 p.m. on Friday before an off day on Saturday. They finish pool play against Midland (Michigan) at 9 a.m. on Sunday. Sunday’s game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

“I love the format,” Baker said. “One of the reasons is just the full experience here of four or five days of the festivities and the whole thing that American Legion gives you. When it was double elimination, if you got knocked out early, it was a quick trip.”

And Baker also loves the Saturday off day.

“In the big scheme of things, I think we got the perfect off day,” Baker said. “Now our Sunday game we can kind of know exactly where we’re at with pool play and how to get into the top two.”

Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.

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