SIDNEY — Sidney American Legion Post 217’s baseball team is looking for its third consecutive state berth this year, and a good portion of last year’s team is back to help lead the quest.
Post 217 was off to a 3-4 start heading into a game at Ottawa Post 60 on Thursday. The squad has a new coach this season in Daulton Mosbarger, who is an assistant at Urbana University. Mosbarger is a Bellefontaine graduate and played collegiately at Akron and Ohio State.
“It’s been a learning process,” Mosbarger said. “A lot of them have played together, but not all of them. With this being my first year here and my staff’s first year here, I’m just getting to learn a lot of these guys. As the season goes on, we’re going to be more comfortable with the pitching staff, with the lineup, more comfortable with playing positions.
“So far, with some of the guys not being here with other summer activities, it’s been a learning process, and we’re just trying to get past these first couple of weeks.”
Austin McClain is one of 10 returning players for Post 217. McClain, an infielder/outfielder, graduated from Sidney last year and is playing at Edison State. Two current Yellow Jackets are playing for Post 217 in infielders Caleb Harris and Kyle Noble. Noble led Sidney with a .403 batting average this year.
“Kyle Noble has had a really good start to the summer at the plate and has been playing good defense,” Mosbarger said.
Post 217’s pitching staff is made of Tyler Louden (Otterbein), Daniel Kearns (Russia), Zach Griesdorn (Versailles), Jack Dapore (Russia), Hunter Cohee (Russia) and Noah Richard (Versailles). Mosbarger said Kearns has stood out early. He threw a shutout in a tournament at Carleton Davidson Stadium in Springfield last weekend.
Kearns started a game against Napoleon Post 300 at Custenborder Field on Wednesday, which didn’t go as well.
Napoleon jumped out to an early five-run lead. Though Post 217 battled back, Napoleon held on to earn an 8-6 win.
Post 300, which is a perennial state contender, had nine hits and benefited from four Sidney errors.
“We had a couple of spots early in the game where we got ground balls and could have made easy outs but we just tried to do a little too much,” Mosbarger said. “We make those plays, maybe there’s a different outcome.”
Evan Horner hit a three-run home run in the first inning to put Napoleon up early, then Post 300 scored two runs on three hits and one error in the second to take a 5-1 lead. Bryce Williams hit an RBI single in the third to push Napoleon’s lead to 6-1.
Harris hit a two-run double in the third to cut the lead to 6-3. Post 300 pushed its lead to 8-3 after one run scored on a passed ball in the fourth and one run scored on an error in the fifth.
Post 217 pulled within two runs after Noble hit a three-run home run in the fifth. The squad then had a chance in the seventh.
With two outs, Evan Monnier hit a single on a hard ground ball and Bryce Kennedy drew a walk. After a pitching change, RJ Bertini struck out to end the game.
“I told the guys that we could have just rolled over being down 6-1, but we got some guys on base and just like that, we have a chance. …I’m pleased with their effort tonight. I’m just excited to keep it going, especially when we get our full roster here.”
Monnier (Russia) and Kennedy (Lehman Catholic) are two of the team’s returning players. Also back are Austin Shinabery (Minster), Dion Puthoff (Russia), Loudon, Kearns, Griesdorn and Dapore.
McClain was 3 for 4 with two runs on Wednesday for Sidney. Griesdorn came in and pitched four innings in relief of Kearns and allowed one earned run with two strikeouts.
Post 217 has a busy weekend ahead. The squad will play at least five games in the Miami Valley Veterans tournament, which is hosted by Troy Post 43 at Duke Park.
Post 217 will return to Custenborder Field next Tuesday and Wednesday for games against Troy and Piqua Post 184.
The American Legion regional tournament is July 14-18. Post 217 will compete with legion teams in Piqua, Troy, Greenville and Van Wert in the regional. The winner will advance to the state tournament, which is July 24-28 in Lancaster.
Area players on Piqua, Troy Legion teams
Several area players are playing for Piqua Post 184 or Troy Post 43.
Lehman Catholic’s Jared Magoteaux is on Piqua Post 184’s pitching staff. Houston’s Howie Ludwig and Jake Trent, Versailles’ Elliot Bruns and Will Eversole and Sidney’s Kaden Walker are also playing for Post 184.
Jackson Center’s Jacob Francis and Sidney’s Ryan Heins are playing for Troy Post 43, which is also competing as the newly-minted Troy Legends travel team.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.