Legion Baseball: Post 87 forces Game 5 with 3-2 win over Post 36
The season was all but gone for Post 87 a couple nights ago. But after two gut-wrenching victories in consecutive games, one win will bring them all the way back from certain elimination to a berth into the third round of the Area III playoffs.
Holding off Kernersville by a run on Tuesday, the HiToms managed to win by that exact amount Wednesday. The Devil Dogs had the tying run on third with two outs in the ninth inning, but reliever Bryce Lance got Post 36 to hit a ground ball for the final out, preserving a 3-2 decision to force a fifth and deciding game Thursday at Finch Field.
“It would have been easy for us to throw in the towel down two games to none, but I told them it is one game at a time and they have been excited about it,” said Post 87 head coach Rob Shore. “We have put ourselves back in position to win the whole thing Thursday night.”
There were plenty of anxious moments as the HiToms stared elimination in the face for a second night in a row. None more nerve-racking than the ninth inning.
After closing the gap down to one in the eighth, Kernersville mounted a serious threat in their last turn on offense.
Stephen Hemrick singled off reliever Zach Saylor to lead off. Instead of bunting him over with a sacrifice, Ben White was given the green light to swing away. He wound up popping up behind the plate and catcher Avery Hodges put it away in front of the screen.
Hemrick was then sacrificed to second for two outs, bringing up left-hander Logan Sheets. Shore decided to go with a better matchup, going to his bullpen for the lefty arm of Lance. With the cool air at Finch Field filled with tension, Sheets made solid contact and hit a bouncing ball in between shortstop and third. Ryan Hedrick showed great range on the play, cutting off the ball and firing to teammate Zach McLean for the final out.
“This has been a third straight nail-biter but our pitching staff and defense has been outstanding,” Shore said. “I think some of our guys are still looking for their bats. I do not know if they have left them somewhere, but we have not been hitting the ball. A lot of that has to do with their pitching staff. But we have also held them the last two games to five runs. I am proud of our guys.”
Kernersville scored a run in the first inning, but Hayden Manuel pulled it right back for Post 87 with his infield single.
In the third, Greg White and Colin Rosenbaum began the inning with a walk and single, respectively. Designated hitter Cesar Trejo plated one with a sacrifice fly to center, while Rosenbaum scored on McLean's booming double to center.
Justin Pegram and Ryan Kahny settled in and were sharp on the mound for their respective sides until the eighth, when Kernersville scored a run on Kahny. With runners on first and third and two outs, Saylor was brought in and he did his job, getting a ground ball out to keep Post 87 ahead by one.
Notes: Kahny had eight strikeouts for his night in getting the season-saving victory... McLean had two hits to pace the Post 87 offense... The game started close to 9 p.m. due to a lengthy rain delay.