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Southern Nevada Blue Sox surpass lofty Legion expectations

When Basic’s baseball team won its second high school state title in a row, it was natural to think of it as a favorite during American Legion play.

The Southern Nevada Blue Sox, Basic’s summer alter ego, shattered expectations, running the table and winning the state Legion title with an undefeated in-state season.

They are clearly the best in Nevada, and now they get to prove their worth on a national level when the Blue Sox travel to Denver to play Colorado’s state champion in the opening round of the Western Regional Wednesday at 3 p.m.

“Obviously the group is confident,” Blue Sox coach Scott Baker said. “They also understand that we’re playing other state champions now. Stakes are highers and teams are better. The group is ready for sure.”

In Legion play, not only can teams use just-graduated seniors, they can use recently graduated college players. Since Basic has two state titles in the last two years, its alumni list is impressive.

The Blue Sox have taken full advantage of that, using soon-to-be college sophomores Trever Berg (Colorado Northwestern), Ryne Nelson (Oregon) and J.J. Smith (Pima College). Class of 2017 senior Jack Wold led the Blue Sox in hitting with a .518 average (86-for-166), 19 homers and 104 RBIs in 53 games. Nelson was third with a .512 clip, and Berg won the state tournament’s Most Outstanding Pitcher honor.

“Its an awesome thing for the program for the kids to be able to come back,” Baker said.

Current Basic players also showed that the team is not ready to vacate its post as Nevada’s elite, with Garrett Giles winning state tournament MVP and Roger Riley winning American Legion Player of the Year.

Needless to say, the Blue Sox are excited to show that their dominance extends beyond the Silver State’s borders. They went 49-7 overall (21-0 against Nevada teams) in playing a national schedule this summer, and Baker said they are ready to compete for a Legion World Series.

“The schedules we’ve played this summer, we’ve played some of the top-tier tournaments to make sure that we were prepared,” Baker said. “I think the record at 49-7 says we’re ready for the national stage.”

Contact Justin Emerson at jemerson@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2944. Follow @J15Emerson on Twitter.

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