By Josh Brown
ALTON, Ill. — After winning the Western Ohio League and the district legion tournament, as well as a fifth-place finish at the NABF World Series, Troy Post 43 thought its biggest accomplishment of the year would be its runner-up finish at the state legion tournament.
Turns out, the biggest was yet to come.
After the state champion Toledo Hawks had to forego their trip to the Great Lakes American Legion Regional Tournament, Post 43 became the first team from the greater Dayton area to go since Miamisburg in 1970, which dropped both its games there.
“With our victory over Rockport, I like to believe our 2015 Post 43 team can be considered this area’s best legion team ever,” Troy coach Frosty Brown said. “This year, 4,000 legion teams started play across the country, and we finished in the top 50.
“This team competed against the very best teams from across the country. Our guys truly cared about each other and were great to travel with. They set a standard for excellence future teams will have to match.”
Troy began the tournament on Wednesday with a game against Madison (Wisc.) legion, taking an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. But a series of errors proved costly in a 7-3 loss.
Starter Chris Heisey only gave up two earned runs, and Post 43 made it a game in the fourth. Trailing 4-1, Zach Kirby hit a two-run single that cut the lead to one — but Madison plated three in the fifth to seal it.
“We have been a great defensive team all year, and our three errors were uncommon,” Brown said. “We felt we had time to mount a comeback, but Madison held us in check.”
That set up a must-win game against Rockport (Ind.) legion on Thursday. Troy took a 2-0 lead after three innings, and Trenton Wood was able to make that stand up for a 2-1 victory.
“Rockford came in with an amazing 30-1 record, and everyone thought they were the team to beat,” Brown said. “Trenton was just outstanding, holding Rockford to four hits and striking out four. And our defense was back, too, as Cody Harsman, Michael Hale and Greg Peffley made five outstanding diving catches to support him.”
Jackson Ford drove in the game’s first run with a one-out RBI single in the second, and a sac fly by Wood in the third brought home Hale for the game-winning run.
On Friday, though, Troy’s season finally came to an end in a 7-2 loss to Elgin (Ill.) legion.
Post 43 fell behind 2-0 in the first but got a run back. Trailing 3-2 after seven, Elgin scored four times in the eighth to put the game away.
Hale had an RBI double in the game and Troy scored another run on an error, but during that seventh-inning rally Elgin center fielder Nick Menkin made a diving grab on a ball to the gap by Peffley that would have tied the score.
“That was a big play,” Brown said. “Had it fallen, momentum would have been on our side.”
Still, the fifth-place finish at the national regional marked an astounding ending to a successful season.
“I am so proud of this team,” Brown said. “If people hadn’t seen us play, they truly missed a great group of kids. We represented Troy, our area and the state of Ohio as champions, and they will always be the standard our program will be measured by.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.