By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Troy Post 43’s main goal entering this week was to set up its pitching staff for this weekend’s upcoming Veterans Appreciation Tournament.
But put in a heated situation against a tough opponent, the Legends had something else to shoot for — ending a six-game losing streak.
And that’s exactly what they did in thrilling fashion Wednesday night at Duke Park, as Jacob Francis hit a walkoff three-run home run — his second of the game — in the bottom of the 12th inning to help the Legends stun the Miami Valley Machine with a come-from-behind 8-5 victory.
“We needed this game against a very fine team,” Troy Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said as his team improved to 2-6. The Legends had not won since the first game of their season-opening Memorial Day Tournament. “It gives us something to build on.”
Post 43 began the week with its sixth straight loss on Monday, falling 12-5 to the Dayton Thunderbirds at home.
The Legends jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning, but the Thunderbirds scored seven unanswered to take the lead for good. Troy cut the lead to 7-5 with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, but Dayton put the game away with two in the sixth and three in the eighth in the first of two back-to-back scheduled nine-inning games.
Warren Hartzell got the start, allowing five runs on three hits and three walks with three strikeouts in four innings of work. Ian Yunker pitched the next three innings, allowing four runs on four hits and four walks with seven strikeouts, and Jacob Francis allowed three runs on one hit and four walks with three strikeouts in the final two innings.
“We had planned to split the game to set up the starting pitching for the weekend’s Veterans Appreciation Tournament,” Brown said. “It’s our 26th year hosting it. We made a valiant comeback attempt by picking up three in the bottom of the fifth, but that was as close as it got.”
Offensively, Andy Wargo was 2 for 2 with an RBI, J.R. Young and Darius Boeke both doubled, Brandon Wilson drove in two runs and Kyle Evans had an RBI.
“Right now, our hitters have not adjusted to the quality summer pitching,” Brown said. “We struck out 13 times in 27 outs, and if you add eight routine fly balls that’s 21 of the easiest outs in baseball. We had eight strikeouts with men in scoring position. I believe we are much better than we’ve shown in the first seven games.”
In the eighth game, the Legends began to show signs of their potential.
Taking on the Miami Valley Machine Wednesday, the Legends trailed 3-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth before a three-run inside-the-park homer by Francis tied the score and forced extra innings.
The Machine retook the lead with two runs in the top of the 10th, but an RBI sac fly by Boeke, followed by Wargo scoring on a wild pitch, tied the score back up at 5-5. And that’s where things remained until the 12th, when the Legends found themselves in an unexpected position.
“Failing to score in the 11th, we faced a pitching situation I had not anticipated,” Brown said. “Our gameplan was to pitch the entire staff to get ready for the weekend’s tournament. We used the entire available staff, and Austin Kendall is always telling me he can pitch, so we gave him his chance — and he was great. He showed he has a good curve and good fastball, and he throws strikes, He struck out one and took the Machine down one-two-three in the 12th.”
And in the bottom of the inning, Wargo was hit by a pitch and Boeke walked to bring up Francis with two on again. And this time Francis belted the ball over the fence in left-center, a walkoff three-run shot to end the game and the losing streak.
Ben Spangler, Zach Seagraves, Boeke, Noah Brown and Francis all saw work on the mound in the game, with Kendall eventually getting the win. And offensively, Francis led the way, going 3 for 6 with two home runs and seven RBIs.
“The game against the Machine was a real test,” Brown said. “They are 22-26-year-old men who have played college baseball, and they do things right.”
Now Post 43 will play host toe the Miami Valley Veterans Appreciation Tournament, which begins at 11 a.m. at Duke Park. The Legends themselves will play in a pair of games on Friday, at 4 p.m. against the Dayton Force and at 7 p.m. against the Cincinnati River Dawgs. Other participating teams include the Columbus Braves, Hillsboro Legion and Greenville Legion.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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