LANCASTER — Sidney Post 217 lost a tough 2-1 decision in the opening game of the State Legion Baseball Tournament Wednesday to defending champion Toledo Post 553.
Sidney scored on a bases-loaded walk in the top of the second but Toledo came back with two in the third, one of the runs unearned, to finish the scoring.
Brett McEldowney pitched an outstanding game, allowing just four hits while striking out four and walking none. He went the distance.
Post 217, which had five hits, was back in action this morning against Utica, which defeated Sandusky 13-7 in the third game of the day Thursday.
Despite the first-round loss, Sidney Post 217 head coach Jim Koewler remained confident in his squad.
“I still feel good about our chances with the pitching we have and the hitting we have,” he said. “I watched the game after ours and ran into some other coaches. They were impressed with our team.”
Post 217 missed two big scoring opportunities that would have changed the game dramatically. In the top of the second, McEldowney singled with one out and went to third on a double by Jackson Hobbs. Then Dakota Bollinger and Daniel Berning both walked to force in the only run of the game for Sidney.
There was still just one out, but the next two hitters popped to second and struck out.
Then in the bottom of the third, Toledo scored both its runs, with the aid of a costly Post 217 error.
A single started the inning, and the next hitter put down a sacrifice bunt. McEldowney fielded the ball, but the throw to first was dropped, giving Post 553 runners on first and second with nobody out.
The next hitter also bunted, but McEldowney fielded again and threw to third in time to get the lead runner. However, Joe Dandino doubled home a run, and Jay Denman lifted a sacrifice fly to plate the second run, which was unearned.
After that, McEldowney was all but untouchable. Over the last five innings, he retired the side three times and faced just four batters in the other two frames on his way to the four-hitter.
It appeared Post 217 was on the verge of pulling even or putting together a big inning when Josh Nixon led off the top of the eighth with a double down the right field line.
However, an inability to get a sacrifice bunt down hurt the local squad. Cam Clark lined out to the second baseman, and McEldowney grounded out, with Nixon taking third. But Hobbs struck out to end the threat.
“We couldn’t get the bunt down and that hurt us,” said Koewler. “If we had moved him over, he would have scored on McEldowney’s slow grounder to short, easily. But that’s baseball and that’s the way it goes sometimes. We have to come back tomorrow and take them one at a time from here, and come back the hard way.”
Sidney outhit Toledo 5-4, with Hobbs and Nixon getting doubles.
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