By Josh Brown
SIDNEY — Time off can be a good thing.
Too much of a good thing, though …
Still, Troy Post 43 was able to overcome having nearly a full week off and shake off its rust Tuesday night at Sidney Legion in a key WOL matchup, plating a pair of runs in the top of the 11th and getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning to escape with a 5-3 victory.
The game was made even more critical after last Thursday’s 8-7 loss to league foe Greenville. Compounding those problems, Post 43 didn’t get the chance to get back on the field right away to wash that bad taste out — the Hillsboro Wooden Bat Tournament, which the team had been scheduled to take part in from Friday to Sunday, was completely washed away by neverending rain.
“After losing a heartbreaker to Greenville last Thursday, we sat out four days of rain,” Troy Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said. “The Hillsboro Wooden Bat Tournament was completely rained out Friday through Sunday. That’s too many days off. We even scrimmaged our u17 Bombers on Sunday in order to see some live action.”
Troy even had an originally-scheduled day off on Monday — but Sidney had none of those issues.
“Sidney Legion, however, attended the Pemberville Tournament in northern Ohio — and they not only got all their games in, but they were fresh off of winning that tournament,” Brown said. “We decided to restart our rotation by splitting the game between Chris Heisey and Trenton Wood, which would set up everything for the upcoming Bob Cene Memorial Tournament in Youngstown this weekend.
“I was concerned that we might have been rusty and they may have been very motivated. I was right about the rusty part.”
Troy did begin the game hot, though.
A Michael Hale walk and back-to-back singles by Ryan Lavy and Jackson Ford loaded the bases in the top of the second. Cody Harsman — who was 3 for 5 on the night — drove in a run with a single, but Sidney was able to throw out the runner trying to score from second. After a balk moved the runners still on base to second and third, Adam Gunston rifled a single to left that brought them both home and made it a 3-0 game early.
It remained that way until very late, though.
“My concern is that we dimply stopped hitting,” Brown said. “We got on the board in the second and took a 3-0 lead, and over the first eight innings we only had two strikeouts — but we flew or popped out 15 times.”
Sidney was able to take advantage in the eighth, with a single and an error kicking off a game-tying rally and a two-run single by Cole Proffitt evening the score after a series of odd occurrences.
“There was a lot of strange things that happened in this game,” Brown said. “During Sidney’s rally, they bunted what looked like a squeeze play, and Trenton fielded it so quickly that the runner coming from third stopped. But someone in our infield yelled ‘home!’ and Trenton flipped the ball home, and that loaded the bases.
“Also, we had a runner stealing home, and our runner thought someone called time … so he slowed down and was thrown out. Those kind of things I haven’t seen in 43 years of coaching. We were fortunate to win.”
After Troy scratched together its two runs in the top of the 11th, hard-throwing Zach Kirby — who came on in relief in the ninth inning — was able to get out of a bases-loaded situation and end the game and earn the victory.
“Kirby is an upper-80s guy and very well may be the closer we’ve been looking for,” Brown said. “He struck out four in three innings, and our defense played well behind him.”
Heisey worked the first four innings, striking out three and holding Sidney scoreless. Wood came on in the fifth and was put in dangerous situations by errors in the field, but he was able to strike out four to get out of trouble in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings before Sidney finally cracked through in the eighth.
All told, Sidney outhit Troy 13-10 and committed zero errors to Post 43’s whopping five. But Sidney left 17 runners on base, while Troy made the most of its chances and stranded only six in comparison.
Troy, now 16-5 on the year, travels to Youngstown today to begin play in the Bob Cene Memorial Tournament. Post 43 will face the Stark County Terriers at 5:30 p.m. and then take on host Youngstown at 8 p.m., then at 12:30 p.m. Friday afternoon it will face the Ohio Clippers to finish off pool play and set up the rest of the weekend.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132 or by email at [email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.