By Josh Brown
YOUNGSTOWN — Through 40 games, Troy Post 43 had not lost two games in a row all season long.
Early on in the NABF World Series this weekend, the team found itself putting that to the test.
But after falling in the second game of pool play in Youngstown, Post 43 ran off two impressive victories to earn a spot in the championship round, which began late Saturday night. After beginning the tournament with a 6-0 victory over the Devil Cats on Thursday, Troy lost 10-5 to the Brownlee Lookouts — the team that ended up claiming the top seed in the championship round — to begin Friday’s play. Post 43 then bounced back, beating the Brooklyn Cougars 9-1 on Friday and the Michigan Bulls 3-2 early Saturday morning to advance.
But later on Saturday, facing the No. 4 seed Astro Rockets in the first round of the championship bracket, Post 43 couldn’t find a way to even slow down the opposition’s offense as the Falcons routed Troy 20-2.
It had already been an up-and-down couple of weeks for Troy thanks to last week’s rain-soaked regional legion tournament that stretched all the way to Monday and Tuesday. Troy lost 11-4 to loser’s bracket champion Piqua on Monday, but the next night the team again avoided any kind of a losing streak by posting an 8-4 victory over Post 184 to win the regional title and qualify for next week’s State Legion Tournament in Lancaster.
The day after that win, though, Post 43 traveled to Youngstown to prepare for the NABF World Series. Zach Greenwald then got things rolling on Thursday with a stellar performance on the mound.
Greenwald pitched a two-hit shutout in the Series opener as Troy defeated the Devil Cats 6-0. Greenwald walked four and struck out six , and a three-run third inning provided all the support he would need in the game.
Ryan Lavy had a big night at the plate against the Cats, going 2 for 3 with a double and four RBIs. Jackson Ford was also 1 for 4 with an RBI, Cody Harsman was 1 for 1 with an RBI, Trenton Wood was 2 for 2 with two walks and Michael Hale was 2 for 3 with a stolen base in the game.
The next day, Troy started out strong against the Brownlee Lookouts, taking a 3-1 lead after one inning. The Lookouts cut that deficit in half to 3-2 after four, though, and a six-run fifth inning spelled the end. Troy scored a pair in the bottom of the fifth but couldn’t manage to draw any closer.
Lavy took the loss, giving up eight hits, four walks and eight runs while striking out four in five innings of work. Troy’s hitting was sparse and spread out, as well, as it was outhit 11-4. Wood was 1 for 3 with a double, a stolen base and two runs scored, Greg Peffley was 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run, Brandon Nesbitt walked twice, stole a base and scored a run, Michael Hale and Zach Kirby each had an RBI but went 0 for 3 and Mason Knight went 1 for 2 with a double and two RBIs.
That left Troy basically needing to win out in pool play to have a chance of qualifying for the next round. And in Friday’s late game against the Brooklyn Cougars, things didn’t start well as Post 43 fell behind 1-0 after the top of the first.
That was the only run Colton Risk would allow, though, and Troy scored two in the bottom of the inning to take control. Leading 3-1 after four, a six-run fifth inning put away the 9-1 victory.
Risk gave up four hits, walked none and struck out two in the complete game as Troy outhit the Cougars 12-4 — and everyone got in on the act offensively. Lavy was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run, Ryan Burton was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a stolen base, Wood was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run, Risk was 1 for 2 with two RBIs and a run, Cody Harsman was 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI and Hale was 1 for 2 with two runs scored.
That left a Saturday morning contest with the Michigan Bulls to decide Post 43’s pool play fate. The Bulls scored a run in the first and another in the third to take a 2-0 lead, and Troy struggled at the plate for the most part.
That all changed in the bottom of the fourth, though, as Post 43 plated all three of its runs. Nesbitt finished the game 2 for 3 with an RBI, Ethan Garland was 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run, Kirby was 1 for 3 with a run and Jackson Ford walked twice and scored a run in the game.
Wood made that three-run inning hold up, as well. He threw a complete game — the fourth by a post 43 pitcher in its last five games — giving up only six hits and three walks while striking out three.
That set up a championship bracket matchup against the fourth-seeded Astro Falcons, a team that had also gone 3-1 to start the tournament … and was also fresh off of a 24-0 thumping of the Toledo Hawks earlier on Saturday. The Falcons kept that momentum going, outhitting Troy 21-6 and scoring eight in the third and 10 in the fifth — and there was simply nothing Troy could do to stem the tide in a 20-2 loss.
Harsman was 2 for 2 with an RBI, Peffley was 1 for 3 with a run and Lavy was 1 for 4 with a run as Troy had the game tied 1-1 after one inning. But the team fell behind 9-1 after three and simply never recovered. Chris Heisey took the loss, one of five Post 43 pitchers in the game — two of which were unable to record any outs.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.