SIDNEY — It was almost a little refreshing for Sidney Post 217 coach Daulton Mosbarger to make a trip to the mound in the top of the seventh inning of an American Legion baseball game on Thursday night, if only to stretch his legs.
Post 217 had an eight-run lead, but starting pitcher Daniel Kearns had given up back-to-back hits to Greenville Post 140 to start the seventh. After a brief conference on the mound, Kearns struck out the next batter and forced the following two to hit into routine outs to end the game.
“I was talking to my (assistant) coaches, and when we’re playing this well, there’s really little coaching for us to do,” Mosbarger said. “Kind of just sit back and watch them work. …Daniel finished really well.”
Kearns allowed four hits and struck out nine batters in Post 217’s 8-0 win over Greenville, which secured the squad’s third consecutive Western Ohio League regular-season title. The title earns Sidney the top seed in this weekend’s Legion regional tournament.
It’s the third year in a row Post 217 has won the WOL and earned the tournament’s top seed.
“That’s what we set out to do this season,” Mosbarger said. “Being a number one seed is a great benefit, getting a bye and not having to play at all on Saturday. It’s good for our pitching staff and our guys to get a rest after playing five games this week.”
Post 217, which has qualified for the state tournament the last two years, is hosting the regional tournament this year at Custenborder Field. Sidney will open tournament play at 3:30 on Sunday against either Troy Post 43 or Piqua Post 184, which will face off Saturday afternoon at Custenborder.
Thursday’s win was the third in a row for Post 217 (17-13), and Mosbarger said the team is playing well enough to earn a third-straight state berth.
“Pitching and quality hitting — that’s the key and we’ve been getting it,” Mosbarger said. “We get quality starts from our starters, and we think we’ll be tough to beat. We have a really good starting rotation and a couple of guys that can come out of the bullpen. If we get timely hits, we’ll be a tough team to eliminate.”
Aside from quality pitching from Kearns, Sidney had eight hits and took advantage of six walks and five errors by Greenville on Thursday. After building a 4-0 lead with one run in each the first, third, fourth and fifth innings, Post 217 turned it into a blowout in the sixth.
Greenville Post 140 brought in Kane Kimmel to pitch in relief of starter Kenneth Moore in the sixth, and he hit Evan Monnier on his first pitch.
After Austin McClain flied out to center field, Dion Puthoff walked. Hunter Cohee then hit a three-run home run over the center field fence to push the lead to 7-0.
Kyle Noble hit an infield single, Zach Griesdorn reached on an error, Jarred Siegle walked and Noble scored on a passed ball before the end of the inning.
“We missed some guys early (in the season), and when I put the names in the lineup now, I’m like ‘finally’,” Mosbarger said. “I’ve got some subs to work with and a great lineup out there. It’s not just whoever shows up; it’s the whole team. All of these guys can hit. We even have some guys still not here, but for the most part, we’re here and a team, and this is what we can do when we’re a full unit.”
Cohee was 2 for 4 with a home run and a double while Noble was 2 for 3 with one RBI. Cohee scored on a passed ball in the first inning to put Post 217 up 1-0 and Noble added a solo home run to center field in the third to double the lead.
McClain hit an RBI double over Greenville second baseman Riley Post in the fourth, and Noah Richard drove in a run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth to put Sidney ahead 4-0.
Kearns, a 6-foot-5 left-hander who will be a senior at Russia next season, didn’t allow a hit until Tyler Beyke hit a line-drive single in the fourth. Greenville’s other three hits were singles.
“He was locating well,” Mosbarger said. “He was throwing multiple pitches for strikes. That’s a really good combination, keeping hitters off-balance. He did a really good job. That’s the reason we picked Dan for this game, being a big clinch game for us. He’s been lights out for us all year.”
Jarred Siegle was 1 for 1 for Post 217 with three walks and one run while Puthoff was 1 for 2 with two walks. Post 217 left eight runners on base.
The squads were supposed to play a doubleheader, but with Sidney wrapping up the title with the win, the second game was canceled.
The Legion regional is a double-elimination tournament. If Post 217 wins its first tournament game on Sunday, it will play the winner of No. 2 Van Wert vs. No. 5 Greenville on Monday. If the squad loses Sunday, it will play a team to be determined on Monday.
Casey Jones was 2 for 3 for Greenville on Thursday. Moore picked up the loss after allowing four earned runs on six hits in five innings.
Sidney 3, Van Wert 2
Post 217 helped secure its No. 1 seed on Wednesday in Van Wert with a rally over Post 178.
Zach Griesdorn hit an RBI double in the sixth to tie the game 2-2. After Bryce Kennedy walked and Austin Shinabery reached on an error, Jack Dapore hit an RBI double with two outs to put Post 217 ahead.
Tyler Louden pitched six innings and allowed six hits and two runs with seven strikeouts. Austin McClain earned a save in the seventh after Van Wert had a single and a runner reach on a fielding error.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.