LANCASTER — After having played solid defense for most of the season, several late errors and miscues ended Sidney Post 217 White’s run in the Ohio American Legion state tournament.
The Napoleon Post 300 River Bandits scored eight runs in the last three innings to rally and beat Sidney 10-9 in eight innings in an elimination game on Wednesday at Beavers Field in Lancaster. It was the second loss for Post 217 in the double-elimination tournament.
“This was a tough one to swallow,” Post 217 White coach Daulton Mosbarger said. “But overall, the summer was an enjoyable one. This is a great group of kids that love to be around the game.”
The River Bandits gathered six hits in the final three innings and drew three walks. But the biggest game-changing plays were errors by Post 217 White.
With Sidney clinging to a 9-8 lead and a runner on third with two outs in the seventh, Nolan Schafer hit a line out to relief pitcher Jack Olberding for the second out. Olberding fired to third base to try for a double play, but the ball went by Aiden Booth at third base and into foul territory.
Booth tracked down the ball and fired a throw to catcher Darren Hoying. The throw was easily ahead of the runner, but Hoying had to reach to try to make a catch and couldn’t. The ball tipped off Hoying’s glove and rolled away from the plate, and Post 300’s Kaleb Woods scored to tie it.
Another miscue in the eighth cost the White the game. Blake Altaffer hit a pop up to shallow right field with two outs and runners on first and second.
Ryan Caufield, who entered the game and took over for Olberding in right when the latter moved to the mound in the seventh, spent several seconds tracking the ball before it fell. The ball brushed by Caufield’s glove and fell to the ground, and Post 300’s Austin Lichty easily scored from second to give the squad a 10-9 lead.
Caufield fired a throw home and Hoying easily tagged out the runner from first for the third out, but one run was enough. Post 300 went down in order in the seventh, with leadoff hitter Ryan Schloss striking out on four pitches to end it.
“That’s baseball,” Mosbarger said. “It’s a game of inches. You’ve got to make those routine plays. That’s what separates good teams from great teams. Some of those routine plays we had hit to us, we didn’t make.
“(Napoleon) did some of the same stuff earlier and we took advantage of it, but in crunch time, they didn’t (make mistakes) and we did. You’ve got to make those plays in crunch time.”
The River Bandits had similarly rallied late in a contest on Wednesday afternoon against Lancaster Post 11. The squad scored seven runs in the final two innings but lost 9-8 to drop into the loser’s bracket.
Sidney, which lost 10-2 to Yeager-Benson Post 199 on Tuesday and beat St. Clairsville Post 159 14-3 earlier on Wednesday, couldn’t prevent Napoleon from coming all the way back.
The River Bandits scored one run in each the second and third to take a 2-0 lead, but Post 217 White exploded for nine runs in the fourth and was in control until the sixth.
Napoleon scored three runs on two hits in the sixth and also benefited from one error and one hit batter.
Mosbarger, who was concerned about available pitchers on Thursday, stuck with starter Isaac Roby in the seventh.
Tylor Yahraus hit a pop out to start the seventh, but Roby then walked Breven Deckrosh and gave up consecutive singles to left field to Blake Altaffer and Caleb Frank.
Woods then hit a three-run triple to right field to cut the gap to 9-8, after which Roby was removed for Olberding.
“In this tournament, we had lost a couple of our (normal pitchers), so I had to kind of get creative,” Mosbarger said. “Going into that last inning with a four-run lead, he’d been pitching pretty good. He had them off balance. …He let off one bad pitch there with the bases loaded, and it got them right back in the game.
“Jack Olberding came in and got the job done, but we couldn’t finish the play. I think a lot of our guys are frustrated right now. …It’s frustrating because of the big lead we had, but you’ve got to play down to the last out. …Napoleon’s a good team, and they came up with enough plays to win it.”
The White finish 23-6. It’s the second consecutive season the program earned a state berth. Post 217’s lone senior squad earned a state berth in 2019; the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s always good to get here. This team this year has lots of talent and lots of guys that love to be around the game and love to be around each other,” Mosbarger said. “It was a tough way to end and not the way we wanted to end. But it was a great summer.
“… Last year, those kids got something taken away from them, and this year, it was pretty sweet for them to come out and have the success we did.”
Post 217 White scored its nine runs in the fourth off four hits, two walks, one hit batter and two errors. Jordan Lessing hit a two-run double in the inning while Olberding hit a two-run single. Schloss and Jarin Bertke each hit one-run singles.
Post 217 White, which had five total hits, struggled to get on base the rest of the way. Its lone base runner the last three innings came as a result of a Napoleon error.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.