By Rob Kiser
After winning two nailbiters to get to the championship game of the July 4 tournament at Hardman Field, Piqua Post 184 made it look easy in keeping the heavy hardware at home Monday afternoon.
Piqua handled Northridge, the Armoloy junior team, 10-0 in five innings.
“We had some really good wins this weekend,” Piqua Post 184 coach Justin Jennings said. “Northridge is a good team. They are a younger team, but they had beaten us earlier this year. They beat Three Oaks and Greenville to get here, so you have to give it up to them.”
Northridge had a great opportunity in the top of the first, loading the bases with no outs.
But, like has been all year, Seth Clayton was up to the challenge, with some great defense behind him.
On a fielder’s choice, shortstop Dylan Arnold threw home to get the force for the first out.
With the bases still loaded, rightfielder Andrew Lundvall got a fly ball and threw a seed to catcher Joe McGillivary.
McGillivary put the tag on the Northridge runner trying to score to end the inning.
“One of the keys is we had the pitching to save our ace for the championship game,” Jennings said, referring to Clayton. “That was the plan all along and we were able to do that. That has been the key in several tournaments this year.”
Clayton pitched a three-hitter, walking one.
Piqua got all the runs it would need in the home first, scoring twice.
Dylan Arnold walked and came around to score on Travis Smith’s double.
With two outs, Howie Ludwig — who reached on a fielder’s choice — was on first and Smith was on third.
Ludwig stole second and when the throw went to second, Smith hustled home to complete the double steal and make it 2-0.
It stayed that way until the Piqua third, when Post 184 would explode for seven runs.
All seven runs came after two were out.
Will Eversole walked, Logan Harris reached on an error and Ludwig walked.
Austin Arnold had a RBI single and Michael Ashcraft followed with a two-run single.
Lundvall and Joe McGillivary were hit by pitches to force a run in, Dylan Arnold had a two-run single and Spencer Lavey, running for McGillivary, scored on a wild pitch to cap the rally.
“We really swung the bats all weekend,” Jennings said.
Piqua would get the final run of the game in the fourth.
Ludwig walked and came around to score on pinch-hitter’s Matt McGillivary double.
“Today gave us a chance to play a lot of people,” Jennings said. “I think every single player on the roster contributed at some point this weekend.”
Post 184 improved to 21-8, with a big game looming Thursday.
Piqua plays at Sidney in Western Ohio League play.
Sidney is 5-0 in WOL play going into the game and Piqua is 4-1.
“That will determine the seeds for the tournament,” Jennings said about the district tournament, which will be played at Duke Park beginning Monday and determine who goes to the state American Legion tournament. “This is a big game for us.”
And Jennings likes where the team is headed into that game.
“The schedule was set up for us to get better with every tournament we play in,” Jennings said.
And the championship trophy was proof of exactly that Monday.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.