By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Frustrating. Heartbreaking. Mind-boggling.
As many different ways exist to describe Troy Post 43’s loss Tuesday night, and as difficult as it was for the players to accept, coach Frosty Brown still knew what the reality of the situation was.
“We didn’t deserve to win tonight,” he said.
That’s because Greenville Post 140 — which had knocked out top-seeded Van Wert the previous day — rallied from a five-run deficit, plating three runs in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of mistakes by the Legends in the seventh inning to tie the score and tallying the game-winning run on a pair of errors in the bottom of the eighth to eliminate Troy Post 43 from the American Legion Region 2 tournament Tuesday at Duke Park, winning 6-5 in extras to advance to Wednesday’s championship round.
In the end, Troy (28-20-1) had countless missed opportunities to put the game away throughout the entire night, with no one thing directly causing the loss — but everything adding up together to form the result. Despite rapidly building a 5-0 lead after three innings, Post 43 left 10 runners stranded on base, seven in scoring position — including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth inning. In addition to that, three Legends runners were picked off base in the game, and Greenville pitchers struck out nine total hitters — four of them looking, including the final out of the eighth inning with the potential go-ahead run on third base.
“We didn’t deserve to win,” Brown said. “We can’t strike out that much, taking strike threes, can’t get picked off base three times in a ballgame. You just can’t do the things we did tonight.”
Greenville Post 140 (26-14) starter Trent Collins picked two of those runners off base himself, including one in the top of the first inning. He walked two other hitters in the first, though, and Ian Yunker cashed one of those in with a bloop RBI single to give Troy an early 1-0 lead.
Post 43, which only managed two hits in a 5-0 loss to Sidney the previous night, batted around in the top of the third and tacked on four more runs to pull ahead by five. Andy Wargo and Noah Brown both walked and scored on a one-out, two-run single by Brandon Wilson to make the score 3-0. Yunker followed by blasting an RBI double to the fence in left-center, and Kyle Evans came through with a clutch two-out single to drive in Yunker and stake the Legends out to a 5-0 lead.
The leadoff hitter in the top of the fourth singled, as well, but was immediately picked off base by Collins. Jake Francis, Wilson and Yunker hit back-t0-back-to-back singles to load the bases, but Collins got a groundout to escape that jam without any further damage.
Troy missed another golden opportunity in the sixth against reliever Tim Lawson. Back-to-back walks started the inning, but Greenville catcher Darrin Hayes picked the runner off of first base and then the runner on second was doubled off on a flyout to left field.
“We haven’t been picked off three times all year, and we get picked off three times today,” Brown said. “We didn’t leave runs on base, we had them taken off of base. You can’t get yourself picked off in a big inning.
“We should’ve had an eight- or nine-run lead. We couldn’t get a run in because we’re getting picked off or striking out with people in scoring position. The strike threes were ridiculous. It puts all the pressure on the defense and the pitchers.”
And in the end, that pressure made the difference.
Collins kicked off a two-out rally with a single to start the bottom of the fifth inning, Reed Hanes followed with a single and Jarin Young hit an RBI single to put Post 140 on the board and chase Troy starter Ian Gengler, who turned in a solid effort. Tytan Grote then beat out an RBI infield single — and Young raced home to score a second run on the play, catching Post 43 sleeping to cut the lead to 5-3.
Yunker came on to pitch in the bottom of the seventh, with Troy still leading by two. Tyler Beyke began the inning with a high-chopper over the third baseman’s head for a single, but Yunker struck out the next two batters and induced an easy grounder to second base — but the throw to first went into Greenville’s dugout, putting runners on second and third instead of ending the game. A pair of wild pitches brought in the game-tying runs, and the score was tied 5-5 after regulation.
“You can’t do the things we did. We made mistakes at the wrong times,” Brown said.
Troy had a chance to retake the lead in the top of the eighth as Wargo hit a one-out single then took second on a wild pitch and third on a sac fly. But a called third strike — Lawson’s third punchout of the night — ended the threat.
And in the bottom of the inning, Logan Stastny singled to lead off and set up the game-ending play. He stole second base, with Troy’s catcher’s throw going into center field and sending Stastny running to third. Post 43’s center fielder’s throw was also high, going into the Troy dugout and awarding Stastny home with the winning run.
Greenville advanced to Wednesday’s championship round, where it will face Sidney Post 217 at 6 p.m. at Duke Park needing to beat Sidney twice to win. Should Greenville win Wednesday’s game, a championship final would be played on Thursday night to decide who goes to the Ohio State Legion Tournament.
Troy Post 43, meanwhile, is left wondering what could have been — but still has one tournament remaining this weekend beginning Friday, the Miami University Redhawk Classic.
“Like my college coach once told us, ‘Nobody ends on a good note unless they’re the national champion,’” Brown said.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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