LANCASTER — Sidney Post 217 remained alive in the State American Legion Baseball Tournament Thursday, scoring 11 runs in its final four at-bats to roll to a 13-5 win and eliminate Sandusky from the tourney.
The victory put Post 217 at 35-18 on the season and they will be back in action Friday at 1 p.m. against the loser of Thursday’s fourth game between Coshocton and Circleville. That game no doubt ended late, since the entire day’s activities were backed up because of early-morning rain. Sidney and Sandusky didn’t start until noon, two hours after the scheduled start time.
Sidney had veteran fireballer Josh Nixon of Minster on the mound to start the game, and he got off to a bit of a shaky start, issuing a walk and giving up a single to start the game. But he struck out the next two and got the third out with no damage done.
“Josh is a gamer,” said Sidney coach Jim Koewler. “He started off rough and we had to dodge a bullet. But from then on he was back where he should be.”
Post 217 broke through for a couple of runs in the bottom of the third. Dakota Bollinger singled to start it off and Daniel Berning fell behind 0-2 in the count before coaxing a walk in an impressive at-bat.
Austin McLain then singled to load the bases, and a run scored when Drew Wehrman grounded into a fielder’s choice. Berning then came home on a passed ball to make it 2-0.
It stayed that way until the top of the fifth, when Nixon ran into trouble and Sandusky scored three times to take the lead. It started with a walk and a hit batsman, but Nixon got an out on a sacrifice bunt and a grounder that he fielded himself to get the out. But opposing pitcher Dawson Nason smacked a two-out, two-run double. An infield single then scored the third run of the inning.
“We had a little huddle after they scored three and I told the kids that we had to come back and make a statement,” said Koewler.
And that’s just what Post 217 did, scoring five times. Sidney got five hits, and also got an assist from Nason, who walked in two runs in the inning, which saw 11 Post 217 players come to the plate.
Berning singled to right to start it, and McLain’s sacrifice bunt was so good that all hands were safe. Wehrman then reached on an infield single to load the bases with nobody out.
Missed opportunities plagued Sidney in its opening-game loss, but they didn’t let that happen again. Catcher Kyle Subler rapped a two-run single, and after Nixon flew out, Cam Clark hit into a fielder’s choice to put runners on first and third.
Brett McEldowney then doubled in one run, and then came consecutive walks to Jackson Hobbs, Bollinger and Berning to plate two more runs.
“You could see them wilt after we had that big inning,” Koewler said of Sandusky.
Sidney made it 9-3 an inning later with two more runs. Wehrman singled and Nixon singled him to third. Nixon then stole second and that proved to be a key play because McEldowney struck out but the ball got through the catcher. He retrieved it but threw it into right field, allowing both Wehrman and Nixon to score.
Sandusky scored twice in the eighth, but Sidney answered with four more in the bottom of the inning, with walks again playing a big part. With two out and nobody on, McEldowney, Hobbs, Bollinger and Berning all walked to force in a run, then McLain doubled home two and Wehrman singled home one.
Koewler said he plans to go with Hobbs on the mound in Friday’s game.
“Jackson has done a good job for us and I know he can go six or seven innings,” Koewler said. “If we can get through (Friday), we’re going to be in good shape. I know Austin can go and I haven’t even touched Cam Clark yet, and he was my closer most of the season. And I have the two kids from Russia (Daniel Kearns and Bryant McCarty) and they’re ready to go.”
Wehrman had four hits for Post 217 and McLain added three. McEldowney, Wehrman and Subler all drove in two runs, and Berning had a single, coaxed three walks, and also scored three times. Bollinger, Wehrman and McEldowney all scored twice.
Post 83`000 030 020`5`12`1
Post 217`002 052-04x`13`14`0
Nason (LP), Young (5) and Wetton; Nixon (WP), McLain (8) and Subler.