There’s a chip on the collective shoulder of Tallahassee Post 13 American Legion baseball teams, past and present.
With restrictions on how it must comprise its roster versus some other all-star baseball clubs, it can be a good thing to have for in-game determination, even if there’s hardly a definitive answer to “What club is the best?”
In true defiance, Tallahassee Post 13 would probably still stake its claim to that hypothetical title, but this summer it is out for a bit of tangible hardware to bring home.
Tallahassee Post 13 has won four American Legion state championships, but the last came in 1971. Goal No. 1 is easy to find.
“I think we’ve got a strong chance to do it this year,” Post 13 coach Wes Singletary said. “We’ve played most of the teams in Florida and we’ve beaten them all.”
Tallahassee Post 13, which is a 19U team, came in third out of 76 teams at the Perfect Game East Florida finals in May and won the Border Wars American Legion tournament in Jacksonville in June.
The ace of the pitching staff is Leon alum and TCC freshman Thomas Nicoll, whose team also has Florida High grad James Crowder and Rickards grad Ryan Day slinging gems as well.
“Thomas is the stopper. No one can do well against him,” Singletary said. “Ryan Day though has had I don’t want to say the most unexpected summer but he’s come out and beaten everyone he’s faced. He’s beaten some really good teams at Perfect Game and Prospect Wire. He beat Next Level 18U and threw a complete game, striking out (Lincoln grad and Florida signee) Blake Reese three times. Ryan Day has pitched real well. James just goes out and gets wins.”
Wakulla grad Chance Carter, who only pitched in relief on a few occasions during the War Eagles’ spring season, has also pitched solid, beating Mizuno at the Perfect Game tournament. Wakulla grad Bailey Metcalf, who has been in Europe for the first part of the summer and who was a first-team All-Big Bend pitcher this past season, is expected back in time to make a run towards a state championship.
Singletary also has arms available from Leon rising senior Nick Collins and Liberty County grad Noah Davis.
“Our pitching staff and defense has been key,” Singletary said. “We’ve beaten a lot of good teams this year because our pitchers get ground balls and our defense eats them up.”
The middle infield is comprised of Florida High grad and All-Big Bend first-team second baseman Devin Caldwell and Leon grad Josh Nothdorft, who was also a first-team All-Big Bend performer at shortstop. Backing them up in center field is Dennis Ratliff, who graduated from Florida High in 2014.
“Ratliff makes it happen at the top of the lineup,” Singletary said. “He’s hitting the ball a lot harder than he did last year. He was hitting in the one-spot last year, but I dropped him down to three this year. He’s hitting a lot of doubles and triples. We are so strong up the middle with Devin at second, Josh at short and Dennis in center.”
Singletary has also had a few pleasant surprises pop up too, such as Chiles rising senior Evan Hamilton, who missed all of last year with a torn labrum, starting at first base, or the addition of Liberty County grad Garrett Swier to help spell Wakulla grad Jake Webb at catcher. Mix in Chiles grad Preston Kolke’s speed – he broke the Timberwolves’ single-season stole bases record in the spring – in the nine-hole, and Singletary loves the composition of his group.
“Preston is like a second leadoff hitter,” Singletary said. “If he gets on, he scores. He’ll steal second, steal third, and come home on a passed ball. He’s very effective, and that’s one thing this team has been really good at is scoring from second base. I don’t have a guy out there that can’t score from second base and that’s really important.”
Tallahassee Post 13 (24-7-1) plays this weekend in Panama City at the North Florida Black Sox Wood Bat Invitational, which will serve as a final tune-up before the area tournament starts in two weeks. Win that and Post 13 advances to the state tournament in Port St. Lucie the following week.
Capture a state crown for the first time in 44 years and it’s on to the southeast region tournament in North Carolina.
“I think that’s really where they have their target,” Singletary said. “They’re confident enough that they believe they’ll win the state. I think we’ve got a real good chance this year and I think most of the other American Legion teams in the state would say the same thing.”
Tallahassee Baseball Club heads to national tournament
TBC leaves Sunday for its national tournament in Kissimmee, July 11-17, where it will attempt to bring home its fourth national title. The format has been tweaked slightly with pool play for four games resulting in a re-seeding of the eight teams prior to a single-elimination bracket. It had been double elimination in years past.
“There’s no room for error, but it’s also hard to get out of the loser’s bracket as well,” TBC coach Robbie Zimmerman said. “Last weekend we had a tremendous tournament. We went 7-0 last week over four days to take the Dodgertown title. We’ve been slowly getting better and better every week, so hopefully we can maintain it. Hopefully we didn’t peak too early. You just never know. It’s baseball.”