New London Clippers are state champs
MVP Locy hits walk-off single
By Erik Buchinger
The New London Clippers Legion baseball team claimed their first state championship since 1953 in a 6-5 victory over Holmen on Tuesday, July 30.
The Clippers trailed 4-0 early in the game before rallying back to make it a 5-3 deficit heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
With two outs, Briley Johnson delivered with a two-run triple to tie the game at 5, bringing Logan Locy to the plate.
“The first at-bat I had against that kid was a one-hopper off the fence,” Locy said. “He gave me a fastball, and I waited on it and drove it to center.”
Locy’s drive sailed past the centerfielder to bring in the winning run and start the celebration.
“I was rounding first and launched my helmet in the air,” Locy said. “Then everyone came running out to me.”
Clippers player Myles Parker described the celebration.
“There are some kids on this team I haven’t seen jump that high,” Parker said. “Everyone finally relaxed and went running out there. It was so cool, and it was like you see it on TV with the Little League World Series. That’s what it felt like.”
New London head coach Jim Thorpe said he will always remember this moment.
“I don’t even know, it felt like an out-of-body experience,” Thorpe said. “Everybody was just going crazy. To end it with a walk-off in the bottom of the seventh, it’s something you dream of as a kid. To see it happen and happen to us, I don’t even know how to explain it. It still gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. It was unbelievable.”
Thorpe said winning a second state title was an exciting moment for him and his family.
“My wife’s grandpa was on that (1953) team,” Thorpe said. “He was there for the championship game and took it all in, so that was cool for him.”
The first game of the tournament for New London was an 8-0 loss to River Falls. Clippers player Connor Brinkman said the team settled down after the first game.
“I think we were relaxed after that first game and just played like ourselves,” Brinkman said.
The next game, the Clippers took down Mauston 7-1, followed by a 5-4 victory over Waterford.
New London then defeated Holman 3-2 in an eight-inning game, and Brinkman threw a complete game.
The Clippers topped River Falls 8-1 before Locy’s game-winner gave New London a state championship against Holmen.
Locy was named the tournament MVP, while Blake Dey and Brinkman were selected to the all-tournament team.
“I just tried to keep them believing in themselves,” Thorpe said. “There was a reason we were ranked so high all year. We put our backs against the wall and did it to ourselves, but we were good and we knew that. We just kept fighting.”
After competing in the state tournament last season, Thorpe said it’s an exciting time to be involved with Clipper baseball.
“To get this kind of success two years in a row and now this to top it off is fantastic,” Thorpe said. “This has always been a great program, but to get this kind of success is over the top for me and I love it. It’s great.”
Thorpe played for the Clippers for five years and is in his ninth year as a coach.
“I want to thank Clipper country, who supported us, followed us all the way through,” Thrope said. “Everyone supported us especially my wife. She gave me this believe in yourself idea and she’s always done that for me, making it easy to give that to the boys. Coaches have been great as well as the board. It’s a great thing to be a part of, and it’s a fun time to be a Clipper right now.”
The Clippers will move on to compete at nationals in Waupun from Aug. 8-11.
“We got to do it last year, so we know what to expect,” Thorpe said. “There are going to be some really good baseball teams, but so are we. We know what we need to do and understand the focus and effort it will take.”