the youngest members of an Independence Post 21 team that claimed the American Legion Zone 2 Tournament championship with a 9-5 victory over Sedalia Post 642 Sunday afternoon at Liberty Park Stadium in Sedalia.

the youngest members of an Independence Post 21 team that claimed the American Legion Zone 2 Tournament championship with a 9-5 victory over Sedalia Post 642 Sunday afternoon at Liberty Park Stadium in Sedalia.

His teammate, Josh Felz, is a four-year member of the Post 21 squad, and they were able to share a special moment that has not happened to a member of the Independence Legion team since 1980.

It’s been 32 years since a Post 21 team has advanced to state. Manager Tom Bush’s team will play its first state opponent at 8 p.m. Thursday in Sedalia.

“It feels so good to be on this team,” said Andrales, whose two-out, two-run double gave Post 21 a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. “I’d played Junior Legion ball, but this was my first year with the senior team. To be going to state is unbelievable.”

This is Felz’s final year, and he made sure Post 21 punched its ticket to state by retiring the final batter in the top of the ninth inning.

With the bases loaded and two outs, he was brought to the mound.

“It felt good that Tom (Bush) had enough confidence in me to bring me in, in that situation,” Felz said.  “We had a four-run lead, but we didn’t want to give Sedalia any chance of getting back in the game.”

The final batter popped out to Andrew Billingsley at third base and Bush received a Gatorade bath from his players.

“It just feels so good to be going to state with this group of kids,” said Bush, who went to state three times when he was a coach for the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s in 2000, 2002 and 2003. “It feels better when you’re the guy calling the shots.

“You go into every year thinking this could be the year you go to state, but we didn’t really start thinking that until late in the (regular) season. The kids were playing great ball, and if we got behind, they didn’t panic. I think it all started with that game against the A’s.”

In the last regular-season game, Post 21 trailed the A’s 8-0, but roared back to claim a 14-10 victory.

“After that game,” Post 21 veteran Tyler Bodenstab said, “we knew we could come back from anything. We were down (5-1) to Fike in this tournament and won it 7-6 (in the bottom of the ninth inning on a Felz bases-loaded single). We were down today (3-0 to Sedalia), but we knew we could come back.

“And that’s what’s so much fun, to be playing on a team that is so confident you feel like you can win every game.”

With Blue Springs Post 499/Fike, the A’s and Post 21 in the Zone 2 Tournament, Bush and other Legion managers questioned the trips to Sedalia to compete when they could play each other in their own backyard.

“We didn’t like driving to Sedalia, because we’re all from here,” Bush said, “but having state at Sedalia is great. All our fans can make the drive and it’s really not that far – especially to watch a state game. You can tell the kids, their parents and our fans are all pretty excited.

“And so am I.”