GREENVILLE — Sidney Post 217 Red battled back in the bottom of the seventh in an elimination game on Wednesday to set up an all-Sidney championship game on Thursday.
The Red scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to earn a 5-4 victory over Greenville Post 140 Thunder in an Ohio American Legion Region 2 tournament game at Sater Park in Greenville.
“It was a great team effort overall,” Post 217 Red coach Jackson Hobbs said. “… It was crazy and a lot of fun. These guys never give up. They’re a bunch of fighters and a bunch of competitors. They play down to the last out regardless of the situation.”
Greenville Post 140 scored two runs in the top of the seventh to break a tie and take a 4-2 lead. But the Red, which had struggled to hit for much of the game, started to make contact in the bottom half and took advantage of two errors.
After Gabe Link hit a fly out to start the inning, Gavin Roberts hit a grounder to Logan Stastny at second base. Stastny mishandled the ball while trying to throw to first. Roberts reached safely, then Derek Meyer drew a walk.
Hayden Wibbler hit a single to center field to load the bases. Carson Regula then hit a fly to center field, which hit off the glove of Jacob Longenecker and fell to the ground. Two runs scored on the error to tie it 4-4.
Greenville then replaced starting pitcher Keegen Weiss with Ben Ruhenkamp, but Evan Eilerman hit a fly out to right field, which allowed Wibbler to score and end the game.
Regula was 1 for 4 for the Red with 2 RBIs. He drove in the squad’s runs in the first and fifth innings. Wilber was 3 for 4 and Meyer was 2 for 3 with one walk.
“That was a big hit, great putting it in play,” Hobbs said of Regula’s fly to center field. “… (Wibbler) has kind of been a staple for us all year in the No. 2 hole and has done a great job with whatever we’ve asked him to do. That was a great knock with two strikes he came up with in the last inning.”
Gavin Roberts started and pitched five innings. He gave up one earned run on four hits and five walks and struck out seven batters.
“He wants the ball every game and never wants to come out,” Hobbs said. “The dude is a grinder. His pitch count got up there a little bit, which is why we had to pull him. But after that first batter, he really got into a groove and settled down and kept us in the ball game.”
Stastny, Greenville’s leadoff hitter, hit a solo home run off Roberts to start the game and give Post 140 a 1-0 lead. But the Red tied it in the bottom of the first.
Meyer led off the inning with a single on a soft grounder to first base, then Wibbler hit a single to shallow center. Regula then hit an infield ground out that allowed Meyer to score and tie it 1-1.
Neither team scored again until the Red took a lead in the bottom of the fifth. Meyer and Wibbler each hit infield singles on grounders to short stop Carson Bey and reached by beating the throw. Regula then hit a single to center field, which allowed Meyer to score from second.
The Thunder tied it in the top of the sixth. Longenecker hit a double to left field with two outs. He moved to third on a passed ball and then scored on another passed ball to tie it 2-2.
Greenville took a lead in the top of the seventh. Ruhenkamp and Dawson Stephens each hit outfield singles, then Alex Kolb hit a double to left field with one out that allowed both Ruhenkamp and Stephens to score.
The Red needed to beat the White twice on Thursday to win the Region 2 double-elimination tournament. The White, which were the last undefeated team left in the tournament, could have clinched the tournament by winning the first game on Thursday, which was scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
“That’s awesome for the area,” Hobbs said of the two Sidney Post 217 squads facing off for a state berth. “The area up by Shelby County, Auglaize County, Mercer County, it’s great baseball. I’ve had a blast this summer with these guys.”