GREENVILLE — While losing the first game in the double-elimination Ohio American Legion Region 2 tournament doesn’t end a team’s season, it makes the path to a state berth tougher.
Sidney Post 217 White maintained the least strenuous path toward winning the tournament on Sunday.
The White scored two runs in the top of the seventh to win a pitcher’s duel with Van Wert Post 178 2-0 in the second game of the opening day of the Region 2 tournament on Sunday at Sater Park in Greenville.
The two squads looked again to be the favorites heading into the tournament. Van Wert edged Sidney for a state berth in 2018, while Sidney earned a berth in 2019. The tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19 last year.
The win puts Sidney in the winner’s bracket. The squad won’t play again until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, when it’ll face the winner of Sidney Post 217 Red and Greenville Post 140.
“Van Wert’s a great team, and we knew the winner of this one was going to be in the driver’s seat a little bit, so this win was very important,” Post 217 White coach Daulton Mosbarger said. “Not playing until Tuesday, we don’t have to use so many (pitchers).
“Pitching is really the big thing. We’re pretty deep in pitching this year, but the more guys we can save, the better. This first win was big. They used their best (pitcher) and we used our best guy, and we let the best team today win. That was us thankfully, by the skin of our teeth.”
Post 217 Red, which drew a first-round bye, will face Greenville at 6 p.m. on Monday. Greenville scored five runs in the seventh in the first game on Sunday to beat Piqua Post 184 5-4.
Van Wert will face Piqua in an elimination game on Monday night in Greenville. The winner will face the loser of Sidney Red vs. Greenville at 8:30 on Tuesday.
Post 217 White’s Jarin Bertke and Van Wert’s Nolan Schmitz dominated on the mound on Sunday. Both pitched complete games, and neither allowed many players to get on base.
But Sidney came through with two outs in the ninth.
Leadoff hitter Ryan Schloss hit a slow grounder to second base and beat the throw. He advanced to second on a passed ball while Jake Sanders was at the plate, and Sanders then hit a grounder toward TJ Stoller at short stop.
Stoller’s throw to first base went into Van Wert’s dugout, and Schloss scored to give the White a 1-0 lead.
Schloss was the only player who consistently reached base Sunday. He finished 4 for 4, with all hits being singles.
“He had done a great job of getting on base for us all day, but we hadn’t been able to get much else,” Mosbarger said. “He did a great job in that last inning of using his speed after that check-swing dribbler to get on base. We finally got a couple of things to fall our way after that, and that’s all it took.”
After Schloss scored, Bertke hit an RBI single on a line drive to right field to score Sanders and push the gap to two runs.
Zach Schulte doubled to left field to start the bottom of the seventh for Van Wert, but the next two batters hit fly outs, and Bertke struck out Hunter Kauser to end the game.
“That insurance run (Bertke) hit was big,” Mosbarger said. “It’s a lot more comfortable being on the mound up by two with a guy on second than just up by one. It really made the difference.”
Bertke struck out 11 batters while giving up two walks and four hits.
“He got in trouble a couple of times falling behind in counts, but for the most, he was ahead in the count, which allowed him to use all his pitches,” Mosbarger said. “We played great defense behind him. We had a couple of mistakes, but when it was time, we played.”
Schmitz gave up six hits and three walks while striking out two batters.
It was the third time the teams have played this year. Post 217 White won 2-0 on June 23 in Sidney while Post 178 won 9-6 in Van Wert on July 7.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.