Legion teams hosting tournaments this weekend

Grand Valley's Logan Newell pitches during a Division III district semifinal against Edgewood last month in Niles.

JEFFERSON — For baseball fans looking to watch a lot of games, Jefferson will be the place to be this weekend.

The American Legion Cowle Post 151 Dugout Bruisers Senior and Junior League teams will host multi-team tournaments Friday-Sunday.

The tournaments kick off at 9:15 a.m. Friday with the a color guard flag ceremony. The teams will line up and the legion oath will be read.

Each tournament is round robin.

The junior tournament is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The senior tournament is slated to begin at 10 a.m. all three days.

Championship games in both tournaments are scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday.

Aside from Conneaut, other teams participating in the senior tournament are Sandusky Post 83, Wayne County Post 68, Circleville Post 134, Edinboro Post 489, Millcreek Post 773 and Meadville Post 111.

The junior legion tournament will have Sandusky Post 83, Circleville Post 134, Millcreek Post 773 and Chillicothe Post 757.

Post 151 Senior coaches Joe Zappitelli and Jim Richards started the legwork of this tournament last summer.

"There were a lot of phone calls and emails," Zappitelli said. "We're set up for a tournament like this. There's not a lot of legion tournaments in the state, unless you want to drive three, four hours."

Once word spread through social media and other avenues, more teams wanted in on the tournament.

"We had to turn teams down," Zappitelli said. "We wanted to keep it one location."

The Jefferson Havens Baseball Complex is a good facility to host the event. The complex has hosted high school postseason baseball and softball games before.

"It's always good to have teams come to your home tournament," Post 151 Junior coach Greg Myers said. "(Jefferson High School coach) Scott Barber does an outstanding job with the facility. We're proud to have teams coming in. It'll be tough. We're playing good teams, so we'll see how we stack up."

The Bruisers Senior team has one game scheduled this week — Wednesday at Albion (Pa.). Post 151, which is 13-3 on the season and finished second at the Northcoast Elite Tournament. They dropped the championship game 11-3.

"With the distance of the players, it's tough to practice," Zappitelli said. "We have to work more on our communication."

Over the weekend, Logan Newell, a Grand Valley graduate, and Nick Stoltz, who just graduated from Geneva, put together solid pitching games. Newell pitched five innings and gave up two earned runs with four strikeouts. Stoltz threw a complete game with 10 strikeouts.

Nick Reichek, another GV graduate, hit over .400, while Edgewood alum Jacob Zappitelli batted around .350 with six RBIs over the weekend.

The junior legion, made up primarily of county players, is 9-5 on the season. A core group has played together the last four years.

"They continue to get better on the mental side," Myers said. "Their knowledge of the game has expanded and they're grasping situational baseball better. Their skills have developed."

Post 151 took runner-up honors at the Great Lakes Memorial Day tournament last month in Mentor.

Team members include: Daniel Garcia and Jose Cruz of Lakeside; Nicholas Welty of Edgewood; Daniel Wilms and Kyle Smothers of Geneva; PJ Modzelewski and Colin Reid of Jefferson; Alex Kennedy, Nick Morris and Jake Wiley of Conneaut; Truman Myers and Eli Klimko of Madison and Nathan Struck, Eastlake North.

While winning is important, the main objective is put on a quality tournament with dignity and respect for local fans and those visiting from outside of the area.

"Our main goal is to showcase our county while they're here," said Jim Tupa, the legion representative and assistant senior coach. "This is going to be exciting."

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