By Rob Kiser
GREENVILLE — As Travis Smith strode to the plate at Sater Park in Greenville Tuesday night in the ninth inning of a tie game against Greenville Post 140, the Piqua Post 184 first baseman knew exactly what he had to do.
“I needed to help out my teammates,” Smith said. “They had played a great game.”
And Smith did exactly that.
He smashed a three-run triple to the centerfield fence — after hitting a two-run homer earlier in the game — to give Piqua a 10-7 lead and Spencer Lavey finish off the win in the home ninth.
Piqua is now 4-1 in Western Ohio League play, with a game at Sidney next week. Sidney is 4-0 and has Greenville and Piqua to play.
“The home run — I knew it was out,” Smith said. “It (the game-winning triple) felt good coming off the bat, but I didn’t think it was going out. It felt great, but I give it up to my teammates for the game they played.”
It was an ideal situation for Piqua Post 184 coach Justin Jennings — that Jennings never envisioned playing out that way.
“When we had two outs and our nine hitter up, I never thought we would get to Travis (Smith),” Jennings said. “Not, the way are 9, 1, 2 hitters had been hitting the ball tonight.”
But, Matt McGillivary, Dylan Arnold and Will Eversole all drew walks to set up the big hit.
“There is nobody you would rather have up in that situation,” Jennings said. “He had a home run earlier and five RBIs. You would almost be better walking him in that situation.”
A point that Smith proved as the Post 184 bench erupted.
“It just felt good to break out of my slump,” Smith said.
In the home ninth, Greenville had two runners on with one out, before Lavey finished the game with two strikeouts.
He finished with five strikeouts and three walks in his three and a third innings of work, picking up the win.
While, Greenville erased a three-run deficit in the eighth off Lavey to tie it at 7, all three runs were unearned as Piqua committed three errors in the inning.
“This is a tough field, where you get a lot of crazy hops,” Jennings said. “I am not making excuses. We kicked the ball around. It is hard to win when you do that.”
Logan Harris had started the game and after a tough first inning, settled down. He walked five and struck out three, before Lavey came in to get the final out in the sixth with Piqua leading 6-4.
“I wasn’t sure who we were going to start — Logan (Harris) or Spencer (Lavey),” Jennings said. “Logan wnet longer than I expected, but he said he had it. He settled down and I knew he would. But, I didn’t bat an eye bringing Spencer in.”
Greenville pitchers walked 15 in the game, but Piqua had just five hits and had several runners thrown out at the plate.
“I know, how many guys did we leave on?” Jennings said about Piqua leaving 10 runners on in the game.
Piqua had taken a 2-1 lead in third when Michael Ashcraft had a RBI single after three walks and Harris was able to hustle in for a second run on the play.
Piqua made it 4-1 in the fifth.
Howie Ludwig had a RBI single and Matt McGillivary had a sacrifice fly.
Piqua went up 6-2 in the sixth when Arnold walked and Smith drilled a two-run homer over the centerfield fence.
After Greenville had close to 6-4 in the eighth, Smith walked, stole second and hustled to third when the throw got away. He would score when Harris reached on a fielder’s choice.
But, Greenville tied it in the home eighth, before Smith’s big hit and Lavey finishing the game off with two strikeouts.
“That was great,” Jennings said about Lavey’s strikeouts. “You know, every time we come over here, it seems like something crazy happens. I mean, we just beat this team 16-5 at our place two weeks ago.”
Now, Piqua will look to ride Smith’s big swing as they host Celina at 7 p.m. Thursday, before opening the July 4 tournament at Hardman Field with an 8:30 p.m. game Friday, followed by two games Saturday and one on Sunday.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.
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