SIDNEY — Justin Jennings is in his fourth season as Piqua Post 184’s coach. He doesn’t get nervous when the squad plays Sidney Post 217 in American Legion baseball but said he expects some drama.
“It’s always something when we play,” Jennings said.
A Western Ohio League matchup between the two squads at Custenborder Field on Wednesday produced plenty of drama — and ended with a Sidney High School student scoring the winning run for a Piqua squad.
Piqua Post 184 rallied from a four-run deficit to earn a 9-8 victory over Sidney Post 217 in eight innings.
Kaden Walker, a junior who plays baseball at Sidney, scored the go-ahead run after a double by Chase Humphrey in the top of the eighth inning. Post 217 nearly tied the game bottom of the inning, but a tag out at home helped Piqua Post 184 hold on.
Piqua Post 184 (10-7, 3-1 WOL) trailed 8-4 before tying the game in the seventh.
“We seem to play better when we’re down for whatever reason,” Jennings said. “We should spot people six runs and then start playing.”
Sidney Post 217 (6-8, 1-1) scored three runs on three hits in the bottom of the sixth to boost its lead to four runs. Zach Griesdorn came on to pitch in the seventh in relief of starter Evan Monnier, and Piqua Post 184 quickly started its rally.
Humphrey was hit by a pitch with one out, then Seth Clayton hit a double to left center field. Howie Ludwig, a Houston junior, hit a single to center field that allowed Humphrey and Clayton to score.
After a groundout by Austin Rutledge, Colton Schafer walked and Will Eversole hit a single to center field to score Ludwig and bring Post 184 within 8-7. Cory Cotrell then hit a one-run single to left to tie it up. Rylee Dietsch grounded out to end the inning.
Sidney Post 217 first-year coach Daulton Mosbarger credited Post 184 for hitting balls in the gaps off Griesdorn.
“It wasn’t anything wrong mechanically (with Griesdorn),” Mosbarger said. “They were just hitting them where we weren’t. A couple of balls hit two or three feet to the left, they’re outs.”
Austin McClain hit a ground ball single with two outs in the seventh for Sidney and then stole second while Griesdorn was at the plate. Griesdorn grounded out to end the inning.
“They were just finding holes and we weren’t,” Mosbarger said. “Zach had an opportunity there, but he hit a ball right at somebody. That was just the difference there between us at the end.”
Piqua Post 184 catcher Logan Harris led off the eighth with a single to right field. Walker came in as a pinch runner, and Humphrey hit a double to deep center field that allowed Walker to score from first base and put Post 184 up 9-8.
“We look at everything one pitch at a time, one runner a time, one at-bat at a time, and come back that way,” Jennings said. “That’s what we did there. We had quality at-bats and good approaches at the plate. That’s something that we’ve been working on continuously.
“… Chase’s hit, that was sweet. He’s been seeing the ball good. Right guys up at the right time.”
Two of Piqua’s last three batters hit into routine outs, and Griesdorn struck out Ludwig.
Sidney Post 217 had chances in the bottom of the eighth.
Hunter Cohee led off the eighth with a single, and Post 184 brought on Logan Harris to pitch in relief of starter Seth Clayton.
Clayton struck out Kyle Noble but then walked Austin Shinabery. Cohee and Clayton advanced to third and second on a passed balls while RJ Bertini was at the plate. Bertini then hit a grounder to Eversole at third base.
Cohee got in a rundown between third and home, which was covered by Harris. Cohee was called for a baserunning violation for what the home plate umpire described as extending his elbow while Harris was trying to tag him.
Mosbarger said he was looking toward Shinabery at second base and didn’t see the call, which drew boos from Post 217 fans.
Harris intentionally walked Jarred Siegle to put runners on first and second base, but Darrin Hoying grounded out to end the game.
The two squads will play again on Monday at Hardman Field in Piqua, and Mosbarger said Sidney Post 217 will be looking forward to the game.
“There was a lot of positives tonight, but it’s a tough game,” Mosbarger said. “… We’ll be ready to go when we get another shot on Monday.”
Piqua Post 184 had 16 hits and one error while Sidney Post 217 had 13 hits and three errors.
Monnier pitched six innings and allowed two earned runs on 10 hits with six strikeouts. Griesdorn allowed five earned runs on six hits with one strikeout.
Cohee was 5 for 5 for Sidney Post 217 with 2 RBIs while Siegle was 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs. McClain was 3 for 5.
Clayton allowed seven earned runs on 13 hits and had six strikeouts in seven innings for Post 184. Humphrey was 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs while Dietsch and Ludwig were 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs. Eversole was 2 for 4 with 1 RBI.
Piqua took an early lead after Rutledge hit an RBI single to left field in the second inning and Humphrey drove in a run on a line-drive single to left in the third.
Siegle hit a three-run single to center field in the third that scored three runs and put Sidney Post 217 up 3-2.
Piqua Post 184 responded in the fourth. Ludwig opened the inning with a double to right center field, then Rutledge hit a single to short stop. Colton Schafer hit a fielder’s choice that scored a run, then Dietsch hit a single to shallow center field later in the inning that scored a run and put Post 184 up 4-3.
Sidney Post 217 took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a two-run single to center field by Cohee. The squad built on their lead in the sixth.
Griesdorn hit a two-out single to get Post 217 started, then Cohee doubled. Kyle Noble hit a two-run double that bounced off the left field fence. The squad got another run before the end of the inning after RJ Bertini reached first on a fielding error.
Sidney Post 217 will play at least four games in a tournament in Cincinnati over the weekend. After playing in Piqua on Monday, the squad will return to Custenborder Field on Tuesday for a game against Van Wert Post 178.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.