By Josh Brown
TROY — After a tough-to-swallow loss in league play on Tuesday, the Troy Post 43 Legends bounced back the next night against extra-tough competition.
Troy went on the road Tuesday in Western Ohio League Play, falling 7-1 at Van Wert to finish WOL play with a .500 record. But Wednesday, Post 43 took on the Miami Valley Machine, 22-plus team with a number of former college players, and outslugged its way to an impressive 16-15 victory.
Against Van Wert, the Legends took a 1-0 lead after the top of the first, only to commit four first-inning errors to allow a pair of unearned runs to come in, and it was all downhill from there. Ian Yunker took the loss for Troy.
“We lost a key game to Van Wert that left us 4-4 in the WOL and in limbo as to where we’ll be seeded in this weekend’s Region 2 tournament,” Troy Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said. “It is conceivable that all five teams in our league might end up 4-4, so no one is a clear front-runner in this regional.”
Wednesday, the Legends hosted the Machine — and it was a slugfest that saw a combined 31 runs on 32 hits.
“The Miami Valley Machine is a 34-30-year-old men’s team with a lot of ex-college and pro guys,” Brown said. “I greatly respect these men, because they simply love the game and want to play it as long as they can. They are smart, they have good skills — and buddy, can they hit. I knew this would be a challenge, but I didn’t expect this.”
Troy took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second as Kaleb Bowdle and Jacob Arthur drew walks, were bunted to second and third by Austin Kendall and driven in on a two-run double by J.R. Young. The Machine plated five in the third to go up 6-2, but the Legends answered as Noah Brown hit a one-out double, Brandon Wilson hit a two-out RBI single and Bowdle was hit by a pitch, then Jacob Duncan singled and Kendall and Young hit back-to-back RBI singles to cut the deficit to 6-5 after three.
The Machine plated six more in the fourth to build a 12-5 lead, but Troy answered with five in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to two. After a couple of walks, Keaton Mohler hit an RBI single up the middle, then Wilson and Bowdle hit back-to-back RBI singles and Duncan hit a two-run double to make the score 12-10 after four — and that was where things remained going into the eighth inning.
In the eighth, the Machine tacked on three more runs to take a 15-10 lead, but Troy rallied again in the bottom of the inning. Two walks and a wild pitch put runners on second and third with no outs, then Bowdle hit an RBI single and Duncan hit an RBI fielder’s choice to cut the lead to three. After another walk and a stolen base, Young ripped a two-run double to cut the lead to one and advanced to third on a wild pitch, and Perry Casto drew a two-out walk to set up a game-tying double steal. And after Casto had advanced to third base, Andy Wargo beat out an infield single to score him and put the Legends up 16-15 going into the ninth.
“We ran the double steal exactly as we teach it and tied the game,” Brown said. “This was a test, and many teams would have given in. But after Tuesday’s game, we seemed determined to come back.”
With runners on first and third in the top of the ninth, Bowdle struck out the side to preserve the win.
Arthur, Ryan Heins, Chase Weaver, Nick Hundley, Duncan and Bowdle all combined on the pitching effort for Troy, with Duncan getting the win and Bowdle a save.
“When you beat a team of young adult men like the Machine, it shows that we can play anyone when we stay focused and do what we’ve been taught,” Brown said. “We did that tonight.”
The Region 2 tournament begins Saturday at Custenboarder Field in Sidney.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.