By Josh Brown
YOUNGSTOWN — Five one-run games out of the past six, two extra-inning games and plenty of drama and excitement.
Post 43 is well on its way to earning the “cardiac” nickname.
All three of its games in pool play at the Bob Cene Memorial Tournament in Youngstown were one-run affairs as it began play on Thursday by splitting a pair, falling 2-1 to the Ohio Glaciers to open the tournament then defeating the Stark County Terriers 5-4 in 10 innings. And on Friday, they followed all of that up with a masterful pitching performance by Chris Heisey as Troy defeated the Ohio Clippers 1-0 at the Bob Cene Baseball Complex.
Heisey joined Ryan Lavy, who pitched a gem in a tough loss to the Glaciers to open the tournament, as well as the trio of Jackson Ford, Michael Cookson and Zach Kirby that pitched well against the Terriers, in an outstanding set of performances for the Post 43 staff.
“We played three really tight ballgames,” Troy Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said. “We’ve only given up a handful of runs. Our pitchers have all done a great job, but now we’re just trying to get some more timely hits. Ever since the Hillsboro Wooden Bat Tournament was rained out and we missed those four days, we’ve kind of fallen off there.”
Before the Hillsboro tournament that wasn’t, Post 43 lost 3-2 in the final of the Miami Valley Veterans Memorial Tournament to the Columbus Braves, then dropped an 8-7 decision to league foe Greenville. It preceded the Bob Cene Memorial with its only game in the last six that wasn’t decided by one run — but that took 11 innings as Troy defeated Sidney 5-3.
Things remained tight against the Glaciers, as Lavy battled Todd Brandon in a pitcher’s duel. Troy took the lead in the third as Michael Hale doubled, Trenton Wood singled and Cody Harsman drove the run in with a single to make it a 1-0 game. But that was all Post 43 could manage in the game as it left 11 runners stranded — Lavy only allowed six hits in the game, but the Glaciers were able to tie the score in the fifth and take the lead for good in the sixth.
“Ryan mixed up his pitches extremely well and did a great job,” Brown said. “We knew this team had a lot of college guys in the lineup, which meant a lot of first-pitch curveballs and changeups in fastball counts. He did a good job of keeping them off balance.
“We’ve run into Brandon before. He pitches for Slippery Rock, and last year he beat us in the World Series. We’re still having problems with runners in scoring position. This was a pitcher’s duel, and it turned into a good, fast ballgame.”
Against the Terriers, Ford and Cookson gave up two runs apiece in three innings each, and a three-run Post 43 rally in the sixth closed the deficit to a single run. Hale and Wood hit singles, a pair of walks scored a run and Ford and Ethan Garland each had RBI singles in the inning. And in the seventh, Greg Peffley singled and advanced all the way to third on a throwing error, and Lavy tied the score to send the game into extras.
Kirby held the Terriers in check from there, but Post 43 left the bases stranded in the ninth and loaded them back up with two outs in the bottom of the 10th before Garland scored the winning run on a wild pitch.
“Kirby’s been outstanding,” Brown said. “He struck out nine of the last 12 outs of the game and was basically unhittable. Ford and Cookson also pitched well in the game.”
And in the team’s final pool play game against the Clippers on Friday, Heisey pitched a shutout but was matched all the way to the seventh inning. Peffley singled, was bunted to second by Brandon Nesbitt and took third after seeing no one was covering the base. A safety squeeze couldn’t bring in the run but put runners on the corners, the Clippers intentionally walked Lavy and Harsman drove in the game’s only run with a single.
Post 43, now 18-6 on the year, is left waiting to see if it qualified for the championship round today and Sunday — but with rain entering the area late Friday, it may be left waiting.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132 or by email at [email protected], or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.