SIDNEY — After winning two close regular season games against Van Wert Post 178, Sidney Post 217 had one of its worst days at the plate this season in a regional tournament matchup on Monday at Custenborder Field.
Post 217 managed three hits against Van Wert and struck out 13 times in a 6-2 loss in a Region 2 American Legion tournament game. The loss dropped Sidney into the consolation bracket and forced the squad to play in an elimination game against Troy Post 43 on Tuesday night at Custenborder.
Van Wert starter Caleb Fetzer allowed three hits in five innings and struck out 10 batters. Fetzer, who plays collegiately at Rio Grande, also hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning that gave Post 178 a 6-1 lead.
“He did a good job,” Sidney Post 217 coach Daulton Mosbarger said of Fetzer. “Threw multiple pitches for strikes and had a good breaking ball. He kept our guys off balance and made the pitches when he needed to.”
After Monday’s loss, Sidney needed to win three consecutive games to earn a state berth. If Post 217 beat Troy Post 43 on Tuesday, it would face Van Wert on Wednesday night. A Van Wert victory would clinch the squad a state berth, while a Sidney victory would force a championship game on Thursday.
Sidney beat Troy 3-0 during a tournament game on Sunday. The squads split in Western Ohio League play this season.
“Like we said going into Van Wert, it’s tough to beat a team three times,” Mosbarger said. “We’ve got to beat Troy for a third time. …We know what Troy’s about, and we have to be ready.”
Post 217 took an early lead. Leadoff hitter Austin McClain reached second base on an error in the first inning, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a passed ball to put Sidney up 1-0.
Sidney had a chance to add to its lead in third after Hunter Cohee was hit by a pitch and Kyle Noble hit a two-out double to center field to put runners on third and second. Fetzer struck out Zach Griesdorn to end the inning.
Cohee started on the mound for Sidney and allowed four hits with three strikeouts in the first three innings. Van Wert was able to hit off him in the fourth, though.
After Reid Spencer led off the inning with a ground out, Gavin Carter drew a walk and Nick Woods hit a ground-ball single to right field. Derek Luersman then beat a throw to first base to load the bases, and Tristen Wehner hit a two-run double to right field to put Post 178 up 2-1.
Alex Schneider then hit a chopper single up the middle that scored a run to boost the lead to 3-1, and Fetzer followed two batters later with his three-run homer that landed next to the “Veterans Memorial Field” sign in left field.
Cohee pitched six innings and allowed 12 hits with five strikeouts.
“One bad inning,” Mosbarger said. “He fell behind a guy, and some guys squeaked a few hits through to get some guys on base, and a couple of guys came up big for them. (Cohee) pitched good other than that inning.
“We’ve played 14 innings in this tournament so far, and we’ve had 13 shutout innings. One bad inning gets you in the loser’s bracket.
After Van Wert’s big fourth, Sidney had one hit the rest of the game — a single by McClain in the fifth. McClain later scored after advancing on a wild pitch and two passed balls.
McClain, a Sidney graduate who is playing at Edison State, finished 1 for 3 with two runs.
“He’s been our table setter all year,” Mosbarger said. “He gets on base and steals for us. He’s a good guy to get on for the guys in the middle of the order to move around. He’s a guy that doesn’t get all the credit because he doesn’t hit home runs, but he puts the ball in play and he makes things happen with his feet.
“He’s also been great all year defensively for us at shortstop and has played multiple positions — center field, second base, pitcher. He’s been a full utility man for us.”
Aside from Noble’s double and McClain’s single, Tyler Louden had a single for Sidney.
Fetzer was 3 for 4 for Van Wert with 3 RBIs while Wehner was 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs. Schneider was 2 for 5 with 1 RBI while Spencer was 3 for 4.
Post 217 stranded six runners while Van Wert left four on base.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.