By Josh Brown
PIQUA — Troy Post 43 has a plan for the upcoming American Legion Region 2 Tournament.
Friday night, the team showed just how far it’s come in implementing its plans.
Troy’s turned four double plays against rival Piqua Post 184 — three inning-ending ones in a row in the first three innings, then another to erase a ninth-inning baserunner — and the offense more than did its share, as well, building an early lead and continuing to build on top of it throughout to pull away for a 14-1 victory at Piqua’s Hardman Field, dominating a team that it took a late come-from-behind effort to defeat early in the season.
In the teams’ first meeting, Troy trailed 7-3 going into the bottom of the seventh and rallied to win 8-7. Friday night, Post 43 left no doubts.
“We’ve played a lot of teams between then and now,” Troy Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said. “We have a lot better idea of the kind of things we can do.”
Thursday night, though, plans hadn’t gone as well in a loss at WOL regular season champion Sidney. But everything will be reset come next week when the regional tournament begins.
“We have a gameplan for the tournament. Now we just have to execute it,” Brown said. “Last night was ugly. Sidney beat us 12-4. Again, we had a gameplan, but we just couldn’t execute it.”
There were none of those issues against Piqua, though.
Post 43 (18-20) jumped on top in the first. Brandon Nesbitt drew a leadoff walk, then Greg Peffley — who hit the game-tying home run in the eighth in the first matchup against Piqua — doubled to put runners on second and third. Michael Hale hit a seeing-eye single through to left field to bring in the first run, and a groundout back to the pitcher moved runners to second and third again. Kieran Williams dropped down a squeeze bunt and Piqua’s pitcher rushed a throw home, firing it over the catcher’s head and allowing two runs to come in on the error to make it 3-0.
In the bottom of the inning, shortstop Peffley and second baseman Hale turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, then after an RBI single by Max Schutt in the bottom of the second, Hale made a diving catch on a liner and doubled off the runner at first to again end the inning. And with runners on first and second in the third inning, a grounder to Williams at third turned into a 5-3 double play.
“That (inning-ending double plays) settles most things,” Brown said with a laugh.
From there, Chris Heisey was in complete control.
After entering in relief in the third inning, Heisey dominated, setting down eight straight between the third and sixth innings and striking out nine in seven full innings of work. He only allowed one hit — a single by Dylan Arnold in the sixth — walked four and hit a batter.
“Heisey has been working hard,” Brown said. “He’s been working on getting his pitch count up. He’s a guy that can throw 100 easy. He pitched well tonight.”
He had plenty of support, too.
Keaton Mohler hit a two-out RBI triple to make it a 4-1 game in the fourth, then Post 43 added three more in the fifth as a walk and a hit batter put two on, a wild pitch moved them up and Williams drove a two-run single back up the middle. In the sixth, Troy got another run as Mohler scored on a wild pitch, followed by an RBI single by Peffley to make it an 9-1 game. And in the seventh, Nesbitt made it an nine-run game with a two-out RBI single.
Troy put the game beyond out of reach with a four-run ninth inning, scoring all four with two outs. Ethan Garland led off with a single, but a pair of fielder’s choices left a runner stuck on first with two outs. Walks to Nesbitt and Peffley loaded the bases for Hale, who narrowly missed a grand slam by blasting a three-run double off the fence in left. A hit batter and another walk reloaded the bases, and Cory Cotrell was hit by a pitch to force in a run and make the score 14-1.
Heisey walked the leadoff batter in the ninth, but a grounder to Peffley at short turned into a 6-3 double play, and a called third strike on the next batter ended the game.
Troy traveled to Greenville Saturday night in a game not complete at time of press. Post 43 will then host Greenville Tuesday at Duke Park to kick off the regional tournament, with the championship game to be held in Greenville.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.