By Josh Brown
TROY — As Cory Cotrell and Greg Peffley — the two newest late-inning heroes in Troy Post 43’s most recent come-from-behind win — laughed off questions about how the team never gives up, coach Frosty Brown had himself a good chuckle, too.
“We’re going to try to learn the other way to do it, too,” the coach said with a laugh.
For the moment, coming from behind is working, though.
After Troy Post 43 (6-3, 2-0 WOL) fell behind 5-0 after four and a half innings and trailed 7-3 going into the bottom of the seventh, the team rallied once again late, with Peffley hitting a two-out game-tying home run in the bottom of the eighth inning then Cotrell driving in the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth as Troy stunned bitter rival Piqua Post 184 in an 8-7 victory Tuesday night at Duke Park.
The win came directly off the heels of a 7-6 Post 43 win over the Miami Valley Prospects on Monday night — in which Troy scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to win in walk-off fashion — and a 12-inning victory over Pemberville Legion last week in which Troy came from behind twice in what would have been its final chances. Of Post 43’s six victories this year, half have come in their final at-bat.
“There’s nothing like a come-from-behind win,” Peffley said with a smile. “It’s just exciting.”
“The kids are getting some enthusiasm and beginning to understand each other,” Brown said. “We’ve played a lot of good teams, and Piqua is another good team. Travis Smith pitched a really good ballgame for them tonight.”
Tuesday night, Troy’s early at-bats against Smith weren’t effective at all. The Post 184 (4-4) righty had Post 43 off balance, allowing only two hits and two walks through the first four innings, only getting one of those runners past first base.
Piqua, meanwhile, was able to take advantage of its chances early against Troy starter Chris Heisey. In the top of the second, Andrew Lundvall was hit by a pitch, and while trying to advance to third on a slow-rolling groundout, the throw to third went wild and he scored the game’s first run.
After an easy third inning by Heisey, Post 184 threatened again in the top of the fourth. A Lundvall walk started things off, then back-to-back RBI doubles by Howie Ludwig and Noah Richard followed by an RBI single by Noah Gertner — all with two outs — chased Heisey from the game and put Piqua up 4-0. Reliever Logan Donovan escaped the rally as catcher Ethan Garland threw a Piqua runner out trying to steal, then an RBI single by Lundvall in the fifth made it a 5-0 game.
“Logan coming in t stop that three-run rally, that was big,” Brown said. “He held them and gave us a chance to win it in the end.”
And in the bottom of the fifth, Troy finally began its comeback.
Anthony Steele and Dylan Hensley both worked one-out walks after lengthy at-bats, then Peffley put Troy on the board with an RBI single. Brandon Nesbitt hit an RBI groundout and Michael Hale ripped an RBI double past the left fielder, making it a 5-3 ballgame.
Smith went one more inning, giving up the three runs, four hits and five walks in six innings of work while striking out five, throwing a total of 109 pitches. His teammates gave him a slightly larger cushion in the top of the seventh, as well. After Post 43 center fielder Cotrell doubled a Piqua runner off second base on a routine fly ball, a pair of walks to Lundvall and Joe McGillivary started a two-out rally, with Logan Harris hitting an RBI double and Ludwig an RBI single to make the score 7-3.
Even that lead proved not to be safe.
Piqua brought in Josh Osterholt to finish the game, but he struggled early in the seventh. A leadoff walk to Noah Roswell led to an RBI double by Nesbitt, then Hale singled to center and an errant throw to third allowed Nesbitt to score and make it 7-5.
Osterholt seemed to settle down in the eighth, recording two quick outs, but a single by Roswell kept the inning alive — and Peffley made Piqua pay, yanking a 1-0 pitch deep over the fence in right for a game-tying two-run homer.
“The kid wasn’t throwing that hard,” Peffley said. “I just got the timing on that first pitch, and that helped me drive the second one.”
“Peffley’s home run came at a very big, very opportune time,” Brown said.
Reliever Hunter Cohee, who pitched four innings to finish the game for Post 43 and eventually got the win, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the ninth, allowing two walks and hitting a batter but getting a pair of grounders back to himself to keep the game tied going into the bottom of the inning. In the Troy half of the inning, Osterholt again recorded two quick outs and appeared to get the third one, inducing an easy fly ball to center off the bat of Kieran Williams. But the ball was dropped and Williams advanced all the way to second, bringing up Cotrell with one last chance.
“I actually started to walk away,” Brown said. “I thought the ball was in his glove. It’s funny, because I’d told Cory before the inning began that, after looking at the numbers and who was coming up, he needed to be ready — because he might be the guy that’s up with runners in scoring position.”
And Cotrell, who was 0 for 4 to that point in the game, was more than ready. He drove the game-winning RBI single up the middle, and the final desperation throw from center trying to get Williams at the plate was too wide and too late, giving Troy a second walkoff win in a row.
“It was an awesome experience, I’ll tell you what,” Cotrell said. “And it came against my former hometown of Piqua, too, so it was an extra big situation for me to be in.
“I think we just gain confidence going into each new inning. We start out the game confident, then we just get more confident as it goes.”
Troy traveled to Springfield Wednesday night, looking to extend its three-game winning streak against the Springfield Titans in a game that was not complete at time of press. Post 43 then hosts the Miami Valley Veterans Appreciation Tournament Friday through Sunday at Duke Park.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.