SIDNEY — After three one-run games against Troy Post 43 Legends in the last month, Sidney Post 217 put away the championship game of the Region 4 tournament quickly on Tuesday at Custenborder Field to earn its third consecutive state berth.
Sidney defeated Troy 9-3 to win Region 4 and advance to next week’s state tournament, which will be held at Beavers Field in Lancaster. Post 217 will face Lancaster Post 11 at 9 a.m. in its first game in the double-elimination tournament.
The regional tournament was also double elimination. Sidney faced off with Troy Post 43 on Friday and pulled out a 1-0 win in eight innings, then followed with an 8-3 win over Piqua Post 184 to advance to the championship game.
“I think we’re playing our best baseball now,” Sidney coach Jackson Hobbs, who is in his first season as Sidney’s senior team coach, said. “That’s what you want to be doing this time of year. To come into this tournament and beat strong Troy and Piqua teams, it’s awesome. I’m super proud of these guys. They’re fun guys to be around.”
Troy needed to defeat Sidney twice on Tuesday night to earn a state berth, but Sidney grabbed the momentum in the fourth inning by scoring six runs to take a 7-1 lead.
Friday’s one-run win in extra innings over Troy was Sidney’s third close win over the squad in a month’s time. Post 217 beat the Legends 5-4 in a Western Ohio League game on June 27 in Sidney and also won a matchup between the two 9-8 in a tournament at Beavers Field on Independence Day weekend.
Johnny Nixon started and pitched six hitless innings. He gave up one earned run on four walks while striking out three batters.
Hayden Wibbeler pitched the seventh in relief and gave up one earned run on three hits.
Troy took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Nixon hit Jaxon Hill and walked Garrett LeMaster. Hill moved to third on a fielder’s choice and scored when a pickoff throw to first went into foul territory.
Sidney tied it in the bottom of the first after two hits, including an RBI double to center field by Aiden Shappie.
Post 217 exploded in the fourth with five hits. Nixon hit a solo home run to start the inning. Carson Regula hit a double, Shappie drew a walk and Jack Davidson hit a bunt single. Regula scored on a balk, then Wibbeler hit a 2-RBI single to push the lead to 5-1. Gavin Roberts drove in a run on a sacrifice fly, then Grant Saunders drove in one run on a triple to push the lead to 7-1.
Sidney scored two runs on in the fifth to put the game away. Regula and Shappie each hit singles and scored by stealing home on double steals.
Hobbs coached Sidney’s junior team last year, which faced off with the senior team in the Region 4 tournament. Sidney had two teams compete in the senior tournament last year due to Troy not participating.
“It’s a better taste to win this after losing to the older team last year,” Hobbs said. “I’ve got a few of the younger guys back who were with me (on the junior team) last year and they’re contributing, and we’ve got some guys back (from last year’s senior team).”
Hobbs said the group and meshed well over the last month and a half. The group has played in several weekend tournaments, including the Independence Day tournament in Lancaster. Hobbs said he hopes it has prepared the squad well for playing the state tournament next week.
“Pitching and defense is key,” Hobbs said. “We had three great outings from starting pitchers in this tournament, and to continue that will be key. Hopefully we can get the bats out too, like we did tonight.”
Aside from Nixon and Wibbeler, Hobbs said Russia High School players Grant Saunders and Xavier Phlipot have been strong pitchers, as well as Sidney High alum Ryan Caufield and Gavin Roberts, who is entering his senior year at Sidney.
“I really like out chances next week,” Hobbs said.
Troy Post 43 finished with a 20-17 overall record.
It’s the third consecutive state berth for Sidney Post 217 and the program’s fifth in the last six seasons conducted; the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19.