By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — At this point, every Western Ohio League victory possible means a lot — possibly everything.
“The way our league is setting up, every time you win, it could be a really good thing for you. Because we are beating each other up right now,” Troy Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said.
That back-and-forth battling continued on Tuesday night, as Post 43 strung together one solid inning of offense against Sidney starter Daniel Kearns, then Troy reliever Noah Brown worked out of a jam the following inning and shut the door from there to help Post 43 earn a regular-season series split against Sidney Post 217 with a hard-fought 3-2 victory at Duke Park.
With the win, Troy improved to 14-15-1 overall and 3-2 in the WOL, while Sidney fell to 11-10 and 3-2 in the league.
“We split with Sidney, we split with Piqua and we beat Van Wert once,” Brown said. “You start thinking about it — anything can happen right now. And it’s all for that bye in the tournament. Every win is important.”
It was a different kind of game than last week’s 7-0 victory by Sidney — particularly because the hero of that game, Post 217’s Kyle Noble, was unavailable. Noble hit two three-run homers in that previous game.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have Kyle tonight,” Sidney Post 217 coach Daulton Mosbarger said. “He’s been our rock all season. It’s tough not to have him in the lineup tonight — but we still had plenty of opportunities. We just didn’t get it done on multiple opportunities. Even without him, we had plenty of chances.”
“The guy that made the difference last time, Noble, wasn’t here. Take a bat like that out of the lineup, it always hurts,” Brown said.
And for both teams, all the offense came in one inning.
Troy strung together a three-run inning in the bottom of the third to take control. Darius Boecke drew a walk to lead off and Andy Wargo was hit by a pitch with one out, but Sidney pitcher Daniel Kearns got a flyout for the second out and looked ready to get out of trouble. But Jake Francis, Brandon Wilson and Kyle Evans hit back-to-back-to-back singles, all on ground balls through the middle, with Francis driving in one run and Evans bringing home a pair to make it a 3-0 game.
“I really wanted that squeeze to get down (at the end of the inning), because I felt like we really needed that fourth run,” Brown said. “But it turned out Brown pitched a whale of a game.”
Sidney answered in the top of the fourth, though. Bryce Kennedy doubled to lead off, Jack Heitbrink drove him in with an RBI single and Kurt Rutschilling blasted an RBI triple off the fence in center field to cut the lead to 3-2. A walk to the next batter put runners on the corners and chased Troy starter Ben Spangler — but reliever Brown immediately got a lineout back to himself and doubled off the runner at first and then got a called third strike to keep Post 43 out in front by a run.
“Noah hasn’t pitched for us a lot,” Brown said. “He kept telling me last year he could pitch. He’s fast, he’s got a nice curveball and he throws a nice little crossfire-type fastball/slurve. It all worked out well for him, and that’s why we put him in the designated hitter spot tonight, so we could bring him out of the pen.”
“He came in and pitched with energy,” Mosbarger said. “He attacked the zone and throwing a lot of strikes, and our guys were having a tough time with him. They weren’t on time and weren’t executing. We had plenty of opportunities to score, but we just weren’t executing when it was time to.”
Brown only allowed two baserunners the rest of the way with a pair of walks and allowed no hits in four innings of work, striking out five — including punching out the side in the top of the seventh to close out the win. Spangler went the first three innings, giving up six hits and a walk while striking out two.
Kearns was saddled with the loss despite a strong effort, allowing only five hits, one walk and one hit-batter and striking out five.
“Kearns has been great all year,” Mosbarger said. “He’s just pitched a couple of tough-luck games where they hit ground balls through the infield. They find the hole, and that’s baseball. You’ve got to battle through that stuff.
“Three runs? I think our offense is good enough to score more than three runs most nights. Tonight just wasn’t one of those nights.”
Rutschilling was 2 for 3 with a triple and an RBI, Heitbrink was 2 for 3 with an RBI and Kennedy doubled to lead Sidney’s offense. For Troy, Evans had two RBIs, Francis had one RBI and Austin Kendall doubled as no one had multiple hits on the night.
Troy continued league play on Wednesday night at Van Wert, before traveling to Xenia Thursday for a weekend tournament, the Grady’s Invitational, at Athletes in Action Field.
“Now we’re going to try to go to Van Wert and see if we can do what we did the other night, and then it’s off to Xenia,” Brown said.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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