After all the bats were packed away and Burnsville’s ticket to the American Legion World Series was firmly secured, there was an odd calm, head coach Greg Nesbitt noticed.
“It was just exhaustion,” he said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of talking on the plane and there wasn’t a whole lot of talking on the bus. It was kind of refreshing for me.”
That said, Nesbitt is hoping his team isn’t even close to finished making noise. Burnsville, which hadn’t even qualified for a regional tournament in its history before sweeping through the Central Plains Regional in Fargo, N.D., with a 5-0 record, is one of eight teams left standing at the World Series in Shelby, N.C.
Burnsville will face Napoleon, Ohio, in the opening game of the tournament at 9:30 a.m. Friday. The World Series runs through Tuesday, and all games are streamed live on ESPN3.com.
Getting to this point has exceeded the expectations of many.
“They were pretty excited to even make the regional. That first game, you could see in the first couple innings they were nervous. They were playing Fargo, the hometown team … and I told them we weren’t too popular,” Nesbitt said. “Then we had a hard-fought game with Eden Prairie and we were able to sneak by that one. I think that was pivotal because they could see how things were lining up. It clicked for them that we had a real chance.”
Three more victories followed, including a 15-5 rout of Omaha West in the title game. That game ended around 5:30 p.m. Monday, with a meeting afterward.
“Between the game ending and the meeting ending, I had like 60 text messages,” Nesbitt said, noting the community support. “That was cool. It killed my battery, but that was neat.”
The team stayed in Fargo on Tuesday, then flew from there to North Carolina early Wednesday. They haven’t been back in Minnesota for well over a week, and they hope they don’t come home any time soon as exhaustion turns back to exhilaration.
“They’ll get those juices flowing again soon,” Nesbitt said.