By Josh Brown
PIQUA — Piqua Post 184 executed to perfection early in Wednesday’s rivalry matchup.
But in the end, there was no amount of execution that could have helped against Troy Post 43’s Brandon Wilson.
After Piqua took the lead on a first-inning double steal of home, the Legends starter settled down from there, scattering seven hits and keeping Post 184 off balance all night and giving Troy Post 43’s offense a chance to take over the game in a 5-1 victory in Western Ohio League play Wednesday at Hardman Field.
Wilson only walked one and struck out four in the game, using every trick in the book to hold a potent Piqua Post 184 (6-6, 1-1 WOL) lineup in check all night long, only giving up one run in the first inning after a two-out single by Rylee Dietsch, an error that put runners on the corners and a double steal to put Piqua up 1-0. But Troy (6-3, 1-1 WOL) scored two in the top of the second inning to take the lead and never looked back from there.
“Give Brandon Wilson a lot of credit,” Troy Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said. “He just battled with them, changed speeds and moved the ball around the plate. Everything he threw, he had people off balance. That’s an important part of the game. We just had the one glitch in the first inning with a little bit of a high throw on a double steal, but you didn’t see them run the rest of the night because they respected our catcher’s (Andy Wargo) arm.”
Piqua still had runners on in each of the first six innings, though, with Troy clinging to a 3-1 lead from the third inning on. But post 184 left eight runners on base on the night, four of those in scoring position.
“We haven’t been doing that lately,” Piqua Post 184 coach Justin Jennings said. “We’ve been capitalizing lately — but Wilson, the kid threw a gem. Can’t say anything else about that. We’ve been hitting the ball, but they were mixing their pitches up well and keeping us off balance.”
The defensive play of the night for Troy came in left field. With the score still 3-1, Michael Ashcraft led off the bottom of the sixth with a double and Seth Clayton followed that by driving a ball to the gap in left-center. But Post 43 left fielder Keaton Mohler made a diving catch while going up the hill in front of the fence and, with the runner already having rounded third base, threw to second to double him off to wipe out Piqua’s last gasp.
“We had something going in the sixth, but that double play killed it,” Jennings said.
“Oh my, yes. Even his grandpa (assistant coach Jack Mohler) didn’t even think he had a chance to catch it,” Brown said. “That was a pretty good play.”
Piqua starter Seth Clayton delivered a solid outing as well, though, striking out three, walking none and giving up 12 hits in a complete game.
“Seth threw a (heck) of a game on the mound, really,” Jennings said. “This was his first time out, and he only threw 80 pitches. I’m not disappointed with the performance we put on — I think we came out ready to play — but Frosty had his boys ready to go, too.”
And in the second, the Legends took control.
Jacob Arthur singled with one out and advanced to second on a groundout, then Ian Yunker pulled a clutch RBI double over the left fielder’s head to tie the score at 1-1. Austin Kendall followed that up by yanking an RBI triple over the right fielder’s head to give Troy a 2-1 lead, and Post 43 never trailed again.
Troy got an insurance run in the third on the bases, as Mohler hit a one-out single, took second on a passed ball, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a two-out wild pitch to make it 3-1. And after Mohler’s outstanding catch-turned-double play in the bottom of the sixth, Post 43 put the game away in the top of the seventh. Yunker led off with another double and was bunted to third, then Noah Brown drove him in with an RBI single. Wargo singled on a hit-and-run to put runners on the corners, then Mohler hit an RBI groundout to make it a 5-1 game. From there, Wilson finished things off with a one-two-three bottom of the seventh.
“Defensively, we did (play the best game we have so far this season. And we hit the ball better,” Brown said. “We’ve been working hard on our hitting. We hit the ball when we needed to, and we made some great defensive plays tonight.”
Yunker was 3 for 3 with two doubles and an RBI, Kendall was 2 for 2 with a triple and an RBI and Brown and Mohler were both 2 for 4 with an RBI for the Legends.
Deitsch had the only multi-hit game for Post 184, going 2 for 4 with a run scored, and Ashcraft doubled.
“I think we played well enough to win the game. Their balls were just going where we weren’t, and our balls were line drives right at people,” Jennings said. “Next time could be a different story. I’m looking forward to the rematch here in a couple weeks.”
After a day off on Thursday, Troy Post 43 will host its Veterans Appreciation Tournament at Duke Park this weekend beginning with a pair of games Friday night — against Springfield Armaloy at 7 p.m. and against Hillsboro Legion at 9 p.m.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.