By Josh Brown
LANCASTER — The Troy Post 43 Legends put themselves in a tough place at the start of the Lancaster Post 11 Classic over the weekend.
But a hard-fought victory over one of the tournament favorites helped Troy regain some momentum as Post 43 went 2-2 in the tournament Friday through Sunday at Lancaster, coming back home for a Tuesday doubleheader with a 14-12 record. The Legends began the tournament with a 6-3 loss to Pemberville Post 183 and a 10-1 loss to Blissfield (Mi.) Post 325, but bounced back by holding on for a 5-4 victory over Napoleon Post 300 — which eventually finished as the tournament runner-up — and finished up with a 9-0 consolation round rout of the Lancaster Juniors.
“The problem is, when you’re in a four-team pool, you’ve got to get out and win right away,” Troy Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said. “But we ended up throwing everything into a bit of a quandary when we knocked off Napoleon in the third game — they and Blissfield looked like they were both going to sweep into the title game, but when we beat them, they had to match up with Lancaster in the semifinals.”
After Napoleon got past Lancaster, the Circleville Post 134 Panthers defeated Napoleon 8-0 in the championship game to win the tournament.
Troy began the tournament against Pemberville — a team that it split a doubleheader with early in the season — and held a 3-1 lead after the top of the fifth inning. But a string of errors, both technical and mental, in the bottom of the fifth allowed Pemberville to plate five runs and steal the win.
“They came out with a nice left-handed pitcher, and we made the proper adjustments — we just didn’t hit the ball real well,” Brown said. “We took advantage of a little wildness and had a 3-1 lead in the fifth. But … we’re not error-prone, but we don’t communicate. Sometimes we’ll force plays that aren’t really there — nobody tells somebody to hold a throw or that kind of thing. In the fifth, we had a couple of those things happen, and they got five runs.
“It started out with a one-out throwing error where we had no chance to get the guy. Then the leadoff man hit a triple, we had another error in the infield where a little communication would have gone a long way, then there was another double and all of a sudden we’re tied. Then there was an infield single and a hit batter, a fielder’s choice gave them the lead and they ended up scoring five. After that, their pitcher sensed he had paydirt in front of him and struck out five of the last six batters — he only had one strikeout after five.”
From there, Post 43 took on Blissfield on Saturday afternoon, falling 10-1 in five innings.
“They really put it on us,” Brown said. “Blissfield ended up having 12 hits, and at a certain point I decided it was a chance to check out some of the younger guys that haven’t gotten to play as much, so Elliott Seelig and Adam Ott — Ott pitched really well in his inning. We wanted to see what some other guys could do.”
Later Saturday, though, the Legends put together a solid effort against a tough Napoleon team, leaving 20 baserunners stranded in the game and winning 5-4.
“We’re playing one of the top teams in the tournament, and we played like different people,” Brown said. “We handled tough situations well defensively, Chase Weaver was the starter and worked out of trouble in each inning, we supported him with some double plays and he threw some big pitches when he needed it.
“They had the bases loaded six times, and they left a total of 20 runners on base. We went through the whole game dodging bullets.”
Jacob Duncan had a two-run double and Frank Gmuca had an RBI to give the lead, then J.R. Young hit a home run in the sixth after Napoleon had cut the lead to 3-2 to give the Legends some breathing room at 5-2 — and Troy held on from there.
“They had the bases loaded in the seventh, the winning run on second with one out, but we got a popup and a strikeout to end it,” Brown said. “We were dodging bullets all through that ballgame.”
Post 43 finished the tournament with a convincing 9-0 win over the Lancaster Juniors. Ian Yunker pitched a one-hit shutout, striking out eight. And offensively, Young led the way again, going 3 for 3 with a double, another homer and three RBIs, and Ryan Heins was 2 for 4.
Troy returns home Tuesday for a doubleheader, facing Springfield Armaloy at 5:30 p.m. and the Gem City Throwbacks at 7:30 p.m. before beginning play in the National Wood Bat Championship tournament Thursday at Butler University.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.