0618 Matthew Ellis

Post 20 starter Matthew Ellis hits a pitch to the outfield against Greenville at Legion Field on June 18.

When the Post 20 baseball team arrives today at the airport, it’ll be the first time many of the players have ever stepped foot on a plane.

Post 20 will be traveling to play in the Marshall Gates World Series from Friday to Tuesday in Salt Lake City, Utah. Coach Glen Evans said he met with the team Wednesday night to prepare his players for the flight experience.

“The trip to Salt Lake City, it means a lot,” Evans said. “It’s more than just a baseball trip. These kids, some of them have never been on an airplane. I’ll have to explain to them how to download their (airline) app and check in for their flight, things that they’ve never done before. I’m sure they’ll be pretty apprehensive and nervous, so this is more than just baseball. We’re going to go out there and play some of the best 18- and 19-year-old baseball players in the country.”

Greenwood will open the tournament against the hosting Marshall Gates Foundation Marshalls at 7 p.m. Friday. Post 20 will also face the Colton Nighthawks on Saturday, Mountain West and HOOTS Baseball on Sunday, the Southern Nevada Tribe on Monday and the Southern California Renegades on Tuesday.

Evans said this five-day tournament will be a great chance for Post 20 to see how it stacks up against some of the best teams in the nation.

“What I think we’re going to learn is that they put their pants on the same way we do,” Evans said. “I think that can only be beneficial going into the playoffs.”

Post 20 clinched first place in its league Tuesday with a 3-2 win over Greenville at Conestee Park in Mauldin. The game was a continuation of a previous one played at Legion Field in Greenwood. The game was tied at 2 in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded and one out for Greenville.

Matthew Ellis helped Greenwood escape the jam, striking out the first two hitters he faced and retiring the next Greenville batter to end the inning.

Ellis then hit a leadoff double in the seventh inning and later scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch from the Greenville pitcher.

With the league-clinching win, Post 20 will now have a bye week in the first round of the playoffs. Greenwood will open the playoffs against Rock Hill at home on July 15 in a best-of-five series.

“I think it’s very important for our team because we set out to win the league, and we had that goal,” Evans said. “Now that we’ve actually hit one of our goals, I think that possibly moving on and going to the state tournament is a very real thing to them.”

Evans said he’s not sure how important having a bye week is, especially since that could affect momentum, but he’s grateful the team will have the tournament in Salt Lake City to stay sharp and prepare for the playoffs.

“Thank goodness we have Salt Lake City for that,” Evans said. “I think from our psyche of knowing that we won our league, and knowing that we are capable of doing some good things, I think it’s huge for us.”

Contact sports writer Wesley Dotson at 864-943-2530 or follow him on Twitter @WesleyPDotson.