SIDNEY — Jack Heitbrink plays first base and pitches for Minster. He’s been recently called on for outfield duty for Sidney Post 217, though, and came up with a big throw on Monday night to help the squad secure a win.
Heitbrink charged a ground-ball single by Ottawa Post 63’s Cole Niese in the top of the seventh, fielded it in right field and fired a throw to catcher Darren Hoying, who tagged out a runner near home plate to secure a 3-2 victory at Custenborder Field.
“He said he’s never played out there before. That was his third or fourth game for us in the outfield, and he’s been doing great,” Post 217 coach Daulton Mosbarger said. “He’s been making plays. He fielded that cleanly, and that’s all you can ask for from a kid that’s never played out there.”
The win moved Sidney to 16-13 overall and 3-2 in Western Ohio League play. The squad will wrap up WOL play this week before hosting the American Legion district tournament starting Saturday. Post 217 will play at Van Wert Post 178 on Wednesday and then host Greenville Post 140 in a doubleheader on Thursday.
“We’ve got a lot of guys actually here at the end of the summer and not involved in other stuff,” Mosbarger said. “It helps to have your full roster and a lot of options. Our pitching staff is doing a really good job, and when we come up with those timely hits, it’s been big. As long as we can do that, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Post 217 jumped out 2-0 in the first inning after getting three hits and drawing two walks off Ottawa starter Brady Hauenstein. Post 63 (5-17) battled back to tie the game 2-2 in the fourth, but Austin Shinabery came up with a timely hit in the fifth to put Sidney ahead.
Kyle Noble reached second base for Sidney with one out in the fifth after an Ottawa throwing error on a fielder’s choice. After Heitbrink flied out, Shinabery hit a single to right field to score Noble and put Post 217 up 3-2.
“He worked the count to his advantage,” Mosbarger said of Shinabery’s hit. “I think it was 3-1 there, and he got his pitch and he drove it.”
The two teams combined had one hit until Post 63 threatened in the seventh.
Sidney brought in West Liberty-Salem graduate and Otterbein pitcher Tyler Louden to close the game in the seventh in relief of Russia’s Hunter Cohee. Mike Bowers safely reached first base after a dropped third strike to lead off the inning.
After Owen Macke struck out, Bowers moved to second on a rundown after a Sidney infielder dropped the ball.
Nathan Arrington then struck out, but Cole Niese followed with a single to right field. Heitbrink quickly came up with the ball and threw to Hoying, who tagged Bowers about four feet from the plate.
Mosbarger said the play is indicative of the strong performances he’s used to from Hoying, who is coming out of his freshman season at Fort Loramie.
“He’s only 15, and he’s out here catching guys that are 18, 19 years old,” Mosbarger said. “He’s doing a really good job at it. I don’t call the pitches — he’s out there calling pitches during the game. He’s controlling our pitching staff and is doing a really good job.”
After Post 63 went down in order in the first, Sidney quickly took the lead in the bottom half thanks in part to a hit by Heitbrink.
Austin McClain and Cohee led off the first with singles and Kyle Noble drew a walk to load the bases. Heitbrink hit an outfield single that scored one run, and after Shinabery struck out, Hauenstein walked Jarred Siegle to bring home another run. Evan Monnier hit into a double play to end the inning.
Sidney had a chance to add to its lead in the third after Heitbrink walked and Austin Shinabery hit a sacrifice bunt to move him to second. Siegle reached first base after hitting the field umpire, but Monnier hit a drive right back to Ottawa relief pitcher Justin Moore, who threw to first for a double play.
Post 63 tied the game in the fourth. Cohee hit Chase Schrieber and then walked Grant Fuerst. Moore then hit an infield grounder and reached first base on a throwing error that allowed one run to score. Bowers then followed with a single to score another run and tie the game 2-2.
Cohee allowed three hits in six innings for Post 217 and had seven strikeouts.
“That was a bad break at first, and other than those three or four batters, he really controlled the strike zone and threw multiple pitches for strikes, and that’s all we can ask for.”
McClain was 2 for 3 with one run and one stolen base for Post 217 while Heitbrink was 1 for 2. Sidney had six hits and two errors while Post 63 had four hits and one error.
Moore picked up the loss for Ottawa. He pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed two hits with three strikeouts. Niese was 2 for 4.
Post 217, which has advanced to the American Legion state tournament the last two years, will host the district tournament starting Saturday. There will be at least eight games at Custenborder Field between Saturday and next Wednesday.
Sidney stranded five runners in the first three innings on Monday, and Mosbarger said that’s an area the team needs to improve during tournament play.
“It was a great team win, but we could have had about six runs in the first two innings,” Mosbarger said. “We’ve just got to battle through it and find ways to get more guys on base and get more opportunities. Closing the door is big, and that’s something we’ve not always been successful at all of the summer. Coming down to the end here, that’s what you want to see.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.