Troy Post 43’s Brandon Nesbitt is waved around third base by coach Frosty Brown and scores the tying run during Sunday’s Miami Valley Veterans Memorial Tournament championship game at Duke Park.
By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy Post 43 coach Frosty Brown knows the value of playing against older, stronger teams.
And his team gave a veteran Columbus Braves squad everything it could handle in the championship game of the Miami Valley Veterans Memorial Tournament Sunday at Duke Park, but in the end the Braves broke up a 2-2 tie with a clutch hit in the top of the seventh and held on for a 3-2 victory over Post 43.
“They’re a lot older than us. They’ve got college juniors on that team,” Brown said. “You can look at their builds and tell. I know we give away a lot to a team like that, but you need to do that. Sometimes, you need to push it a little bit.”
Troy (13-5) pushed the Braves a lot, too.
After Columbus took a 2-0 lead after the top of the first inning, Post 43 pitchers Jackson Ford and Michael Cookson and defense settled in and shut the Braves down for the next five innings, giving the offense a chance to catch up.
Troy cut the deficit in half in the second as Greg Peffley singled to lead off, stole second and came in on an RBI single by Cody Harsman. And in the bottom of the fourth, Post 43 evened things up — and threatened to take the lead. Brandon Nesbitt and Trenton Wood led off with back-to-back singles before the Braves forced a pop for the first out. Michael Hale came through with an RBI single, though, and the score was tied 2-2.
After a fielder’s choice for the second out, a walk loaded the bases with two outs. Jason Combs entered to pitch and induced a groundout to short, though, and the score remained tied.
After Cookson got out of a jam in the top of the fifth, the Braves brought in Jacob Hastings to pitch — and Post 43 simply couldn’t mount any kind of a threat against the fast-working, hard-throwing righty. Hastings recorded three straight one-two-three innings from there to ensure Troy didn’t gain the lead.
And in the top of the seventh, the Braves finally got to Cookson. A leadoff walk and an error on a pickoff throw by the catcher put a runner on second with no one out, but a popup on a bunt gave Troy a break. But Matt Shannon was able to sneak the ball fair down the third-base line for an RBI double to give Columbus a 3-2 lead, and that was all the cushion Hastings needed.
“We both came into this game with 4-1 records on the weekend,” Brown said. “We hit the ball real well all weekend, but that last kid they brought in is a college closer. We gave the first college guy they threw at us today a run for his money, though. You’ve got to play good defense, and we did that, too.
“Their coach and I go way back, and he knew it would be this kind of ballgame. I don’t make many mistakes, but I made one today. I should’ve called time and talked to our pitcher in that last inning — I was willing to pitch around the guy that got the hit and didn’t want him to see any fastballs. But that’s just part of the game.”
Troy Post 43 has a day off today before returning to action, hosting Sidney Legion on Tuesday.
“It would’ve been nice to have won this tournament. I don’t think we have in 20 years,” Brown said. “But we gave them a heck of a game.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132 or by email at [email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.