LANCASTER — Two years ago, Pickerington Legion swept Troy in the championship round of the State Legion Tournament to win the crown.
Thursday, Post 43 got some payback.
And in the most dramatic fashion possible.
After dispatching Prospect Legion 8-1 on Wednesday to open the tournament, Post 43 found itself face-to-face with its archnemesis — and it proved to be the kind of back-and-forth slugfest one would expect from two teams that battled for the title so recently. And in the end, a 12th-inning home run by Greg Peffley gave Troy the edge, and Zach Kendall preserved the win on the mound as Post 43 rallied for a 12-11 victory to advance.
“Pickerington took the 2012 State Legion title by sweeping us in the finals,” Troy Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said. “This time was different.”
Post 43 (41-15) had to get there first, though, but had little trouble with Prospect on Wednesday. Troy scored two runs in both the first and second innings to take control, and a four-run fourth put the game away.
The eight runs were plenty of support for Chris Heisey, who pitched a nine-inning complete game, scattering five hits and striking out seven.
“Chris did a great job,” Brown said. “He challenged the hitters, got ahead in the count and threw a number of nice curves. He’s really coming into his own as a pitcher.”
That set up the rematch Troy wanted — and Pickerington didn’t go down without a fight.
“They are a very good club with dangerous hitters,” Brown said. “Their No. 3, 4 and 5 guys are all power hitters. Luckily, since we had the first game Wednesday, we had the opportunity to scout them and got good pitching charts on them.
“All three of our pitchers did pretty well following the gameplan, but we couldn’t shake them — plus eight walks and three hit-batsmen created too many opportunities for their hitters.”
Still, Troy’s offense kept Post 43 within striking distance of Pickerington. Peffley finished the game 5 for 7, Colton Nealeigh was 2 for 5 with a three-run double, Evan Bowling drove in two runs on a bases-loaded double, Trenton Wood had a single and a double and Cody Harsman had two hits.
“Our hitting carried us,” Brown said. “We had 15 hits, and we probably had five hits taken away from us on great plays.”
Kendall came on in relief for Troy on the mound with two outs and the winning run on second base, and Kendall induced a weak pop to right to end the threat and set up Peffley’s heroics.
With the score tied 11-11 in the top of the 12th, Peffley blasted a towering 380-foot solo homer to give Troy the lead, and Kendall shut down Pickerington in the bottom of the inning to seal the win.
With the win, Troy faced 34-1 Wayne County Friday night in a game that was not complete at time of press.