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The Shelbyville American Legion Post 37 baseball team’s superb 2014 season, and the legendary coaching career of Jim Wiley, came to an end Friday.
Host Asheboro (N.C.) Dixon Post 45 slammed Shelbyville 10-2 in an elimination game of the Southeast Regional Tournament at McCrary Park. The defeat ended Post 37’s season, at 29-4, as well as the managerial career of Wiley, who is retiring after coaching the team for the past 35 seasons.
“We had a great year,” Wiley said three days later. “I think I’m quitting on a good note and that’s important. I’m very proud of every one of them.”
After falling 5-4 to Florence (S.C.) in its first game of the double-elimination regional tournament Thursday, Shelbyville fell behind Asheboro 7-1 after four innings and couldn’t recover.
“Digging a hole like that, it’s hard to get out of it, especially against good teams like that one,” Wiley said of Asheboro, which lost 8-7 to Jacksonville (Fla.) Post 88 in Monday night’s final.
Three Asheboro pitchers limited Post 37 to eight hits while Post 45 pounded out 13 hits against five Shelbyville hurlers.
“I just didn’t feel like our pitchers threw enough strikes,” Wiley said. “And they hit it very well.”
Post 37 actually led 1-0, plating one run in the top of the first inning.
Recent Shelby County graduate Kipp Moore led off the game with a single, moved to second on Drew Greenwood’s sacrifice then third on Zac Wiley’s ground out before scoring on Brady Pfaadt’s single up the middle.
It was pretty much all downhill for Shelbyville from there, though, as Asheboro roughed up Post 37 starter Yancey Pritchett in the bottom of the first. Pritchett hit Post 45 leadoff hitter Avery Jackson before walking Kyle Smith. Kirby Lambert then followed with a two-run triple that gave Asheboro the lead for good. Reece Daniel later added a two-RBI double to chase Pritchett (5-1), who suffered his first loss of the season. David Decker came in to get the final out of the first before Zac Wiley started the second inning for Shelbyville.
“We got off to a bad start throwing strikes,” Jim Wiley said.
Post 45 added a single run in the third and tallied two more in the fourth off Zac Wiley to go up 7-1.
Post 37 scored its second run in the fifth. Collins rising senior Alex Doyle led off with a single to left field. Moore then doubled to left field before Greenwood reached on a throwing error by Asheboro’s third baseman. After Wiley struck out, Pfaadt flied out to left field to score Doyle with Post 37’s final run of the season.
“We’ve had an outstanding year, one of our better years,” Jim Wiley said. “I told the players, ‘Even though we didn’t win you’re still state champions of Kentucky, that’s something you’ll always have, it’s something no one can take away from you.’”
Zac Wiley gave up three earned runs on six hits while walking one and striking out six in five innings of relief. Will McDonald and Lance Shelton threw the final two frames.
Moore led Shelbyville at the plate, going 3-for-5. Zac Wiley, meanwhile, added two hits while Brady Pfaadt finished with a pair of RBIs.
“I’m not upset,” Jim Wiley said of the loss. “You always think you can go farther but when you don’t, that’s the way it goes. I think we’ve got a good team and we proved that all summer. Some days it just doesn’t happen.”
State championships happened seven times – 1983, ’91, ’92, 2005, ’09, ’12 and this year – in Wiley’s 35 seasons, something he said wouldn’t have been possible without assistant coaches Donnie Williams, Mike Cresap, Roy Bailey and Matt Buresh, as well as former assistants Dave Hamlin and his son, J.R. Wiley.
“It would have been very hard for me to have this success without these people helping me,” Wiley said. “I feel like coaches are some of the best coaches in the state of Kentucky. I would hope that some of them would want to take the team, because I know they would be good for the baseball program.”
And even though Wiley’s days of coaching the American Legion team are now over, he’ll still continue to work as a part-time scout for the New York Yankees and run his annual baseball camp in June.
“I’ve always had the theory that there’s life after baseball,” he said.
Asheboro (N.C.) 10, Shelbyville 2
Shelbyville Post 37 100 010 000 - 2 8 1
Asheboro (N.C.) Post 45 401 200 12X - 10 13 3
Yancey Pritchett, David Decker (1), Zac Wiley (2), Will McDonald (7), Lance Shelton (8) and Brady Pfaadt. Brady Wright, Ryan Webb (7), Caleb Hassell (9) and Cam Morrison. W - Wright. L – Pritchett (5-1). 2B - Kipp Moore (S), Wiley (S), Avery Jackson (A) 2, Reece Daniel (A). 3B - Kirby Lambert (A). Records - Shelbyville 29-4, Asheboro 16-23.