WHAT: 2011 American Legion State Championships
WHERE: Beavers Field, Lancaster
TEAMS: Sandusky, Napoleon, Worthington, Strongsville, Beverly/Lowell, Lima, Piqua, Harrison, Utica, Circleville, Pickerington, Coshocton.
The last time Sandusky Post 83's Cory Brown played in a state tournament, he was shooting 3-pointers in front of 13,658 fans at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Brown, Derek Colston and Robert Fravel will all look to lead Post 83 to a third state championship in four seasons beginning today, nearly 16 months after playing key roles in Port Clinton's 26-1 state-runnerup boys basketball team in 2009-10.
"It's been brought up by some people when they congratulate me for making state in two different sports," Brown said. "Actually, I think Derek brought it up one day driving home from a game.
"You at least get another opportunity to win a state championship. Even though it's not a school function and a different sport, it's still a state title."
Brown is 47 for 104 (.452 avg.) at the plate this summer for Post 83 (31-7), hitting eight doubles, two triples, five home runs and 31 RBIs. He has scored 40 runs.
"He's played every position for us except shortstop and catcher, which is huge because he's been one of our most consistent bats," Post 83 associate head coach Mike Shepherd said of Brown. "He's a returning guy from last year's team that got beat in districts, so he knows the level of focus and intensity that needs to be brought to the field every day, and the other kids feed off that."
Brown and Post 83 have received big boosts this summer from Fravel and Colston as well. Fravel quickly became the team's ace, finishing 9-1 while giving up less than three runs per game.
Fravel played seven minutes off the bench in the Redskins' 64-50 loss to Dayton Dunbar in the Division II state title game in 2010, scoring a basket.
"To be honest, Robert has surprised me," Brown said. "I didn't see him pitch for Port Clinton this past spring, but I knew he had good stats. But he's done such a great job at just throwing strikes.
"That's all you have to do, and he's done it. He's not leaving balls up, and let's the hitter ground out to our defense just about every time."
Colston, meanwhile, scored 15 points in the loss to Dunbar, including a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to give the 'Skins a 27-26 lead at the break.
His defense in centerfield, however, changed the outcome of Post 83's 11-2 win over Fremont in the 5th district title game on July 17.
After Fravel allowed two runs in the top of the fourth, there were still two on and two out when Colston made a diving catch in center to end the inning.
Without that catch, Fremont would have been up at least 4-0 with the chance to add more runs.
"If that drops, it's a huge momentum shift in that game," Brown said. "Derek has been so good out there, he has a great read off the bat, and that's what you need. You have to be fast to play center, but reading the ball off the bat makes all the difference."
For more of this story, pick up a copy of Monday's Register.