By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — When asked about his team’s recent penchant for coming from behind, Troy Post 43 Legends coach Frosty Brown made his feelings clear.
“I don’t like it,” he said.
Still, the Legends — who snapped a six-game losing streak on Wednesday night with a dramatic come-from-behind extra-innings win — did it again on Friday, this time in the opening game of Troy Post 43’s Miami Valley Veterans Appreciation Tournament at Duke Park. After falling behind the Dayton Force in the second inning, the Legends tied the score in the third and put together a four-run rally in the bottom of the fifth to claim a 5-2 victory to kick off tournament play. Troy then followed that up late on Friday night in the second game with another come-from-behind win in a 12-3 forfeit-shortened rout of the Cincinnati River Dawgs to improve to 4-6-1 on the season.
And even though he enjoyed seeing his team win its second straight, it was the principle of having to come from behind again that Brown isn’t a fan of.
“I don’t like it. I don’t like it because it means you’re not putting pressure on people,” he said. “We’re not hitting when it counts, and that’s something we’ve got to concentrate on. If you’re a batter watching the game, you know when something’s happening, and you need to come to bat with a better focus than some of the guys are. But we do have some young guys.”
Troy had lost six in a row since winning its season opener until Wednesday night. Trailing by three in the bottom of the ninth, the Legends rallied to tie the score and force extra innings and then won it in the bottom of the 12th, 8-5 over the Miami Valley Machine. And though Friday’s deficit was quite as big or the situation as dire, the team still needed to bounce back.
The Force got on the board first in the top of the second. Cody Liles drew a one-out walk and scored on a two-out RBI double by Noah Baer, giving Dayton a 1-0 lead. But in the third, the Legends evened things up as J.R. Young led off with a double, Noah Brown hit a bloop single and Austin Kendall hit an RBI sac fly to tie the score at 1-1.
That’s where things remained through the top of the fifth as Post 43 starter Ian Gengler kept the Force off balance. He left runners stranded in scoring position twice — with catcher Andy Wargo picking a runner off third to erase another threat — and second baseman Brandon Wilson and shortstop Kendall turned an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play in the fifth to keep the score 1-1.
And in the bottom of the fifth, with a little luck, the Legends took over for good.
Kyle Evans drew a walk to lead off, took second on a wild pitch and Noah Brown walked to put two on. Kendall laid down a sacrifice bunt to move them both into scoring position, but Dayton reliever Grant Reeve got a meek popup for the second out.
Wilson then hit another looping fly ball to right field, and the fielder dropped it, allowing both runners to score and make it a 3-1 game. Wargo then singled and stole second to put more pressure on, and Jake Francis — who hit two homers, including the walkoff bomb in the 12th in Wednesday’s game — ripped a two-run double down the third-base line to make the score 5-1.
“We took advantage of some things, and that helped us a lot,” Brown said. “A guy dropped a fly ball, which I don’t think he quite got to it, but that was a break and we took advantage of that.”
Gengler then gave up a leadoff triple to Tyler Lewis to begin the sixth, and Ian Yunker came on in relief. Ashton Adams — who had doubled earlier in the game — hit an RBI single to cash in the run and close the book on Gengler, but Yunker got a pair of strikeouts and, with two outs and the bases loaded, center fielder Noah Brown made a clutch running catch on a tough fly ball to end the inning with Troy still up 5-2. Yunker then added two more strikeouts in the seventh to close out the game.
Gengler lasted five innings to get the win, giving up two runs on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Yunker went two innings to earn a save, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out four.
“Gengler pitched a great game, and Ian did a great job in relief,” Brown said. “It always helps when you’re throwing strikes. And we played pretty good defense today, too. We’ve got a freshman and a couple sophomores in there, so if they get used to things, it’s going to be better.”
Troy Post 43 took on the Cincinnati River Dawgs in Friday’s late game, falling behind 3-1 after a three-run second inning by Cincinnati. The Legends cut the lead to 3-2 after three — and then blew the game wide open with a huge two-out rally in the top of the fifth.
After the Dawgs sat down the first two batters in the fifth, Darius Boeke hit a bloop single, and an error off the bat of Wilson put runners on second and third. A walk to Yunker brought up the dangerous Francis, who blasted his third home run in the last three games, this time a grand slam to put Troy up 6-3 with one swing of the bat. Following that, Colt Francis hit an RBI infield single and another run scored on an error, putting Post 43 up 8-3 halfway through five.
Troy added two more runs in the top of the sixth on two-out RBI singles by Yunker and Francis to make it 10-3, and in the top of the seventh the Legends loaded the bases with no outs, getting an RBI hit-by-pitch by Zach Seagraves and an RBI walk by Ben Spangler before the River Dawgs asked the officials to call the game.
Noah Brown got the win on the mound for the Legends in relief of Warren Hartzell.
The Legends play two more games on Saturday, beginning with the formidable Columbus Braves at 4 p.m. Troy then hosts Hillsboro Legion in Saturday’s 7 p.m. game and faces Greenville Legion at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, with the championship game slated for 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
“Tomorrow we’ve got a tough one against the Columbus Braves, but we’ve got a pretty good record against them for them being as old as they are. If you know that coming in, you’ve got to raise your own game up,” Brown said. “You can’t be making silly errors that cost you, because they’ll make you pay.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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