TILTON — It’s one of the best-known traditions baseball has to offer, at any level of the sport.
Players leaping atop one another in a mass of humanity, typically to celebrate a major postseason success.
Danville Post 210’s senior Legion squad executed the maneuver last week. The occasion: winning a state championship to secure a fourth consecutive Great Lakes Regional berth.
Former Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin standout Chase Rademacher was at the bottom of the dogpile after a title game victory over Barrington, having pitched the final two outs of an eight-inning thriller.
So what’s the plan if the Speakers capture their first-ever regional crown later this week?
Another dogpile. With longtime coach Allan Shepherd as the base.
“Us making it to the (regional) championship those past two years ... I wouldn’t want us to act too crazy because we’ve been there,” said Chase Vinson, an Oakwood graduate and four-year member of the Post 210 senior team. “But I think just going crazy and being happy about it (is expected).”
The quest for a Senior Legion World Series bid begins Wednesday when the Speakers (31-7-1) face off with Swoyersville (Pa.) Post 644 in a 2 p.m. tilt at Coaches Stadium on the Eastern Illinois campus in Charleston.
As Vinson said, Post 210 has reached this stage before — and fallen just short of its top prize, with runner-up efforts in 2017 and 2018.
Even so, the fact the Speakers once again boast a regional qualification serves as a significant accomplishment to a team largely made up of current and former Vermilion County prep stars.
“We didn’t really make it that far (in the IHSA postseason) for DHS,” Danville graduate Jake Stipp said. “Seeing as we could make it to regionals this year, it means a lot because we can give the community something to look forward to.”
That community includes actual members of the Post 210 Legion facility.
“It’s just like a family,” said Ernest Plummer, a three-year member of the Speakers and another Danville graduate. “(The Legion members) barely even know us and they just told us if we ever need anything, just come to them. So it’s basically another support system, playing baseball and doing what we love.”
Though it’s been more than a week since Post 210 last played a game, they’re still carrying positive momentum from a rousing, winner-take-all triumph in the state finale.
The Speakers persevered through a Barrington rally in the bottom of the seventh — following a Post 210 loss earlier in the day — displaying the confidence Shepherd has seen from his crew since its regular-season debut.
“I didn’t have any doubt (we’d win) because I knew we’re a good team,” Rademacher said. “I didn’t think they were going to beat us two games in a row because not a lot of teams have done that this year.”
Losing twice can’t be in the cards for the Speakers this week, lest their World Series dream comes crashing down.
Veterans such as Vinson and Plummer are making sure the pressure of that reality doesn’t become overbearing for Post 210.
“There’s going to be a lot of emotion first game of the tournament,” Vinson said. “There’s going to be mistakes. The successful teams just handle those situations and stay composed.”
“Just play it like a regular game,” Plummer added. “Even though it’s regionals, it’s just another game on the season, another game on the calendar.”
If the Speakers can pile up enough wins this week, they’ll extend their calendar just a little deeper into the summer to the Senior Legion World Series, set for Aug. 15-20 in Shelby, N.C.
It’s a level never before reached by this program.
“I’d be happy coming out with a win — the whole thing,” said Logan Spicer, another Danville graduate. “That’s our goal, and that’s what’s going to happen.”