Fike's Johnny Miles ends time in Wood Bat Invitational with a gem

By Bill Althaus
The Examiner

For the past three days, Johnny Miles has watered, raked and manicured the fields at Hidden Valley Park as part of the 32nd annual American Legion Wood Bat Invitational. 

When it was his moment in the spotlight Friday evening, the Blue Springs Post 499 Fike pitcher made the most of it. 

Miles threw 106 pitches and allowed five runs (three earned) in a 7-5 come-from-behind victory over the Ottawa (Kan.) Post 60 Arrows that meant as much to his coaches and teammates as did the young right-hander, who is pitching in his final Wood Bat Invitational. 

"No one really said anything before the game," said reliever Ty Campbell, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning after Miles fulfilled his pitch count before being removed, "and no one needed to say anything. This was Johnny's and we didn't care what it took, we were going to get a win for him. 

"He's the hardest working guy on the team, a guy we all love, and we wanted him to get this win today, and we went out and got the job done." 

Fike manager Matt Hagerty, whose team finished pool play with a 2-2 record, lavished praise on Miles. 

"He's one of those heart-and-soul kids who would do anything for our team or his teammates," Hagerty said. "You always want to win your last game in a tournament, especially here at the Wood Bat, and we wall wanted to win this one for Johnny. 

"I don't know how the kid can even stand up – he's been in charge of the fields all week. And told me he might get a little tired tonight, but he went six innings and I think he got stronger as the game went on." 

Because of all the new players on Fike this season, Miles was one of two players who knew how to get the playing field ready for the next game. 

"We're playing 53 games out here and I've gotten the field ready for 26 of them," said Miles, who received pats on the back and hugs from everyone wearing Fike orange and blue. "I feel so good right now. I'm not even tired. 

"But be sure and say how much I appreciate my teammates and our coaches. This was a team win, and I am so happy I was part of it." 

Ironically, Fike had just two RBIs in the game as two runs scored on errors, two on wild pitches and one on a balk. Jaxon Rogan had an RBI double and Trent Trieb drove home a run on an infield groundout. 

Ottawa took a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning on an errant pickoff at first base that allowed two runners to score. 

"I was so mad at myself," Miles said, "but I knew the guys had my back and we came back and tied the game (5-5) in the top of the fifth." 

Jacob Rehkow and Rogan hit back-to-back doubles and Trieb added the run-scoring grounder. 

Fike took a 7-5 lead in the sixth when Kayden Albertson scored on a balk and Campbell scored on a wild pitch. 

"We scored just about any way you can score," said Miles, who graciously excused himself – there was a field to prepare for the next game. "I know I'll be tired this weekend, but it's worth it. This is my last wood bat tournament and I'll never forget it." 

Lincoln Union Bank wins title

Lincoln (Neb.) Union Bank claimed the championship of the 32nd annual American Legion Wood Bat Invitational, rolling to a 14-0 win over Moline (Ill.) Post 246 in the title game Sunday afternoon at Hidden Valley Park's Jim Moran Field.

Union Bank, which went 4-0 to win Pool E, topped Omaha (Neb.) Post 331 South in the quarterfinals and then edged St. Joseph Post 11 2-0 in the semifinals to reach the championship.

Moline Post 246 topped the Omaha (Neb.) Spikes 6-4 in Saturday's quarterfinals and then beat Jefferson City Post 5 11-8 in a semifinal Sunday.

Jefferson City Post 5 won a forfeit over DeSoto (Mo.) SMCI in the quarterfinal to advance. St. Joseph Post 11 defeated Lincoln (Neb.) Judds Brothers Construction 12-5 in its quarterfinal.

Because of rainy weather, the crossover consolation games scheduled for Saturday were canceled.