GREENVILLE — After stout pitching had paved the way for Sidney Post 217 White and Post 217 Red to advance to the Ohio American Legion Region 2 tournament final, the teams’ hitting decided who won the championship.
Post 217 White came up with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to earn a 9-6 victory and capture a berth in next week’s state tournament in Lancaster.
“That’s why you play Legion baseball in Ohio. To go to Lancaster is what you’re aiming to do,” Post 217 White coach Daulton Mosbarger said. “We’re lucky enough to get back there. All 17 of our guys contributed this weekend in some way or another.
“This group of guys is a special one to be around. They know how to win, they know how to conduct themselves. When their backs are against the wall, they come through. It’s going to be a fun week over in Lancaster.”
It’s the first time Post 217 has sponsored two senior teams and came from the organization having recruited a plethora of players for the season.
Mosbarger, who coached Post 217’s lone senior squad in 2018 and 2019, is leading a veteran White squad that’s made mostly of 2021 graduates. The Red squad is made mostly of younger players who just completed their junior or sophomore seasons.
The strength of Post 217’s program was on full display during the double-elimination Region 2 tournament, as both advanced to the final and were undefeated except for their head-to-head matchups. The Red’s other loss was a 5-2 loss to the White on Tuesday.
“It was a great effort by the Red team,” Mosbarger said. “They really took it to us. They deserved to be here in this game, and that’s saying a lot about the program over in Sidney. Those guys gave us all the fits in the world. We were lucky to come out on top today.”
The Red scored one run in the top of the fourth to tie it 6-6, then neither scored again until the bottom of the sixth when the White racked up three runs.
Ty Ruhenkamp took over on the mound in the sixth for Red starter Wyatt Bisbee and started the inning by striking out Eric Schmidt.
But leadoff hitter Ryan Schloss hit a line-drive single to right field and then stole second base while Jake Sanders was at the plate. Sanders struck out, but the White came up with big hits with two outs.
Jarin Bertke hit a line-drive double along the left-field line to drive in Schloss and give the White a 7-6 lead. Jack Olberding then reached first after hitting a grounder to second baseman Xavier Phlipot, who was charged with a fielding error after struggling to catch the ball.
Darren Hoying then hit a line-drive single that hit Ruhnenkamp and allowed Bertke to score. Olberding then scored after a pick-off attempt at first base went into left field.
White pitcher Isaac Roby coaxed a fly out by Derek Meyer to start the top of the seventh, then recorded his first strikeout of the evening by getting Hayden Wibbler on four pitches.
Carson Regula hit a single to center field to keep the Red alive, but he was then picked off at first to end the game.
“Roby takes pride in his pick-off move,” Mosbarger said. “He got the guy leaning one way. I know that’s a tough way to end for the other team, but it was kind of a fitting end for Roby.”
Mosbarger led Post 217’s senior team to a state berth in 2019. Roby, Hoying and Ryan Caufield are the only White players who were on the team two years ago. Post 217 didn’t field any teams last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Roby pitched a complete game and gave up five earned runs on 11 hits and one walk.
“The middle part of the game, he started locating his pitches more. His curve ball was down,” Mosbarger said. “He started pounding the bottom of the zone. Early in the game, they got a couple of infield singles where a couple of bounces went their way. He had to battle through it and did.
“He’s a veteran. He’s been through it. I wanted him to have the ball today to give us a chance to go back. He really settled in and got us to Lancaster.”
Wibbler finished 3 for 4 for the Red with 1 RBI while Regula was 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs. Aiden Shappie was 3 for 3 with 1 RBI and one triple and Gabriel Link was 1 for 2 with 1 RBI and one double.
“We were really seeing the ball well and hitting hard,” Post 217 Red coach Jackson Hobbs said. “They’re a bunch of bulldogs. They’re fighters and competitors. It was a fun group to coach. …I’m sad it has to end.”
The Red finishes the season with a 10-16 record.
“Like I told them (after the game), they’re great baseball players, but they’re better kids, and that’s why it was so fun to coach and while I’ll miss it,” Hobbs said. “Our record didn’t dictate who we were as a team. But at the end of the day, I hope these kids learned a lot and had fun, because I did. I’m going to miss it.”
Bisbee pitched five innings and gave up six earned runs on five hits and six walks while striking out two batters.
The White finished with nine hits. Hoying was 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs and one walk and Bertke was 2 for 3 with 1 RBI, one walk and one double. Sanders was 2 for 4 with 1 RBI. Aiden Booth hit a home run in the third and finished 1 for 3 with 2 RBIs and one walk.
The Red took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first after Regula hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed Meyer to score from third, but the White scored three runs in the bottom half. Sanders hit an RBI single to right field, Olberding hit an RBI single to shallow center and Hoying drove in one run on a ground out.
The Red answered with four runs on five hits in the top of the second. Link hit a grounder along the left-field line that stayed fair for a double and drove in John Davidson, who led off the inning with a single. Shappie hit an RBI triple, Regula hit an RBI single and Ruhenkamp drove in one run on a ground out before the end of the inning to give the Red a 5-3 lead.
The White scored three runs on two hits and one walk in the bottom of the third to take a 6-5 lead. Bertke scored after a pick-off attempt went into right field, and Booth followed with a two-run homer to left field to give the White a lead.
Wibbler hit an RBI single to right in the top of the fourth to tie it 6-6.
The state Legion tournament is held at Beaver Field in Lancaster and is a double-elimination tournament.
Post 217 White’s first state tourney game will be against Region 5 champion Yeager-Benson Post 199 at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. With a win, Sidney will play again at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. With a loss, the squad will drop into the loser’s bracket and play at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.