By Josh Brown
TROY — Saying Troy Post 43’s win over Ottawa Legion Wednesday would be accurate.
Especially considering that more than half of the team was involved in the key play of the game.
Five players took part in a wild triple play to end the seventh inning and help Troy hold onto its one-run lead at the time, and Post 43 tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth to hold on for a 7-5 victory Wednesday night at Duke Park.
And oddly enough, it wasn’t the first time in recent history that Post 43 (17-19) has turned a triple play.
“This one was very, very unusual,” Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said. “Last year we turned one in Youngstown, but it was a textbook 5-4-3 triple play. Most triple plays are a mixture of baserunning mistakes, maybe a line drive that catches everyone scrambling — but this one was just a sac fly.”
With Troy up 6-5 in the top of the seventh, Ottawa put runners on second and third with no outs. Brayden Saulter hit a sac fly to Brandon Nesbitt in right, who fired home to catcher Ethan Garland. The runner on third didn’t break, but the runner on second had strayed too far, Garland threw to shortstop Greg Peffley — which caused the lead runner to break for the plate, so Peffley threw back to Garland.
Garland threw to third baseman Frankie Gmuca, who tagged the lead runner. The runner on second was hung up between bases still, and Gmuca tossed to second baseman Michael Hale to trap him in a rundown. Hale tossed back to Gmuca, who applied the tag once more to record the third out and end the threat.
Just your basic 9-2-6-2-5-4-5 triple play.
“It was just a sac fly,” Brown said. “It was a good throw to the plate, and the next thing you know, one thing leads to another and we turn another triple play. And it certainly came at the right time, too.”
And the win couldn’t have come at a better time for the struggling Troy team, which went 1-3 during Lancaster’s Fourth of July Tournament over the weekend. Post 43 will play all three of its WOL rivals — Sidney, Piqua and Greenville — on the road on three consecutive days, beginning with a game at Sidney Thursday that was not complete at time of press. Then next week will be the district legion tournament, with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
Troy began Wednesday’s game solid, grabbing a 3-0 lead after one inning with the benefit of only one hit. Nesbitt led off with a walk, Peffley was hit by a pitch and Hale walked to load the bases with no outs, then Hunter Cohee hit a high chopper back to the pitcher, an RBI groundout that allowed one run to score. Kieran Williams then beat out an RBI bunt single and Garland hit a fielder’s choice to short to drive in the third run.
And in the third, Hale and Cohee hit back-to-back one out singles, with Hale going to third on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run on Cohee’s hit, and Hale scored on an errant pickoff throw to first to make it a four-run game.
“We had some offense today,” Brown said. “We had an extended rally, we squeezed, we had baserunners — we had chances to do some things. Most times, we’ll strike out or pop out and the rally dies. I feel like we made some headway tonight.”
But Ottawa finally answered in the top of the fourth. A single and a pair of walks loaded the bases with one out and chased starter Chase Weaver, then a wild pitch allowed the first run to score. Matt Bowden and Saulter hit back-to-back RBI singles to make it a 4-3 game before reliever Dalton Lee got a pair of groundouts to get out of the inning.
Ottawa took the lead in the fifth an a two-run single by Bowden — who was 3 for 5 with three RBIs in the game — but reliever Mitchell Lindsey came in and got out of a bases-loaded jam to minimize the damage. And Post 43 retook the lead in the bottom of the inning on a two-run single by Hale.
The score remained there in the seventh when Troy turned its triple play, then Logan Donovan entered the game in the eighth inning and shut the door, recording six outs on the seven batters he faced to record a save, with Lindsey getting credit for the win. And in the bottom of the eighth, Nesbitt hit an RBI single to give Troy a little more breathing room.
“When we played this team last, they smoked us,” Brown said. “Tonight, we did a pretty good job. We haven’t stopped playing hard yet. We’re still pushing, and that’s the key. We’re making headway, but this weekend is going to be tough.”
After Thursday night’s game at Sidney, Post 43 travels to Piqua’s Hardman Field Friday to face rival Post 184.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.