By Josh Brown
LANCASTER — Troy Post 43 has seen plenty of success under coach Frosty Brown.
And as this season winds down, it’s clear that the team is in the middle of yet another strong run — despite some adversity along the way.
Through some disappointing setbacks, plenty of close games and narrow escapes — and even some lost weekends thanks to Mother Nature — Post 43 sits at 22-7 with roughly four weeks left in the season. That run includes the team’s current tournament, the 23rd Annual Lancaster Post 11 Fourth of July Classic, where Troy went 3-1 over the first two days and qualified for Sunday’s championship round.
“We’re happy with where we’re standing right now,” Brown said. “We’ve done pretty well this year. It’s been a good showing for us this week at this tournament, except for a few defensive lapses. We’ve still got some tough teams to face, but plenty of good pitching left.”
It was clear early in the season that Post 43 had a strong team as it started off 5-0 before finally falling on the road at Ottawa Legion. After a weekend off for the Strawberry Festival, Troy saw its first Western Ohio League game of the season against Greenville rained out on Monday, but they kicked off league play two days later with a solid win at rival Piqua Post 184 — who Post 43 faces again at home on Tuesday.
That led up to the Miami Valley Veterans Memorial Tournament — which saw its opening day rained out. But Troy was able to reach the title game, only to fall by one run to a Columbus Braves team loaded with veterans.
The next weekend saw the Hillsboro Wooden Bat Tournament — four days’ worth of baseball — completely washed out by the weather, and Post 43 lost a heartbreaking WOL game to Greenville by one run. They then completed a season sweep of Sidney with an 11-inning victory and started off the Bob Cene Memorial Tournament by winning their pool — only to see the championship rounds on that Saturday and Sunday rained out.
Post 43 began this week with some payback, scoring a convincing victory at Greenville, then headed to Lancaster to begin its Fourth of July Classic with a pair of games on Wednesday.
Ryan Lavy — who has had a big tournament at the plate — got the start in their first game against Prospect Legion, striking out nine in a solid effort. But the defense let him down as three consecutive errors put Post 43 behind 3-1 early.
Troy tied the score in the seventh on a two-run double by Trenton Wood, but another error kicked off a three-run eighth for Prospect, and Troy lost 6-3. Michael Cookson — who has made plenty of quality appearances in the tournament’s first four games — got the loss in relief.
“It was a good game, a barnburner all the way to the eighth,” Brown said. “Our defense just let us down a little.”
Troy didn’t get any time to rest, going right back onto the field to take on Pemberville Legion — but they did get back on the right track. Lavy played a big role in that with an RBI single in the first to put Troy on top and a two-run single in the second to make it a 3-0 game. Wood added a two-run double in the sixth to put the game away — plenty of support for starter Chris Heisey, who went the distance to earn the win. Heisey scattered six hits and struck out six in a 6-2 victory that capped off the first day of play.
On Thursday, Troy continued division play against Coshocton Legion, taking charge with five runs in the first two innings and not letting go in an 8-4 victory.
Michael Hale hit a three-run homer in the first inning to start things off, then Lavy hit a two-out, two-run double in the second to put Troy up 5-1. Lavy sealed the game with a two-out, three-run homer in the fifth as Troy scored its eight runs on only five hits in the game. Jackson Ford got the win on the mound, going the first six innings, with Cookson pitching the seventh to close it out.
“We only had five hits in the game, but we made the most of them,” Brown said. “And we got good pitching and defense again.”
Troy finished off division play in the tournament later Thursday night against host Lancaster Legion, and again it was some big offense early in the game that helped lead Post 43 to a 6-2 win. A four-run fourth inning gave Troy the lead, then after Lancaster fought back with a run in its half of the fourth, Ethan Garland singled home a run in the fifth and Lancaster walked another run in to make it a 6-1 game.
Cookson came on in relief of starter Zach Greenwald in the fifth, getting out of a jam and striking out four in 2 1-3 innings to get the win.
Troy faced Steubenville on Saturday in a crossover game that didn’t count toward the tournament standings — but it didn’t matter, as Post 43 had already sealed a spot in today’s championship round. The runner-up in Troy’s division will face the winner of division II, then the champion of Troy’s division will face division II’s runner-up, with the winners facing off for the title.
Troy returns home this week on Tuesday to wrap up WOL play by hosting Piqua Post 184. The team will then take on the Columbus Saberkats Wednesday before leaving for Columbus for the Buckeye Elite Tournament over the weekend.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.