PDT Sports Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Jack Branon was worried about offense as his Post 23 team geared up for what could have been a two-game playoff with Circleville Post 134 Tuesday at V.A. Memorial Stadium.
His worst fears came to fruition in the only game played as for the second time in as many seasons, Post 23’s bid for the American Legion State Tournament came up short against the Panthers. This season, Post 134 held the team from Portsmouth hitless for over seven innings and capitalized on timely hits to get a 7-2 decision.
“They deserved to win the ball game, they played better than we did,” Branon said. “We made some mistakes and defensively, that team can play.”
The Panthers drew first blood in their first at-bat of the game when pitcher Brandon Wright took a 1-2 offering from counterpart Austin Boyer to left field and scored Rod Lucas. Post 23 countered in the third when Brett Hood scored on what would’ve been the final out of the inning if the fly ball hit by Alex Shears was caught by first baseman Cole Cunningham.
Post 134 found ways to hurt Boyer off the first pitches in the fourth and sixth innings. In the fourth, Boyer plunked Chris Cline and the inning didn’t come to an end until Daryin Lewis tried to stretch a double into a triple.
In between those two at-bats, the Panthers scored four runs off Boyer.
“However he gets on, you don’t want the leadoff guy to get on,” Branon said. “A walk and a hit batsmen are the two worst ways because you figure they’re going to get a hit in the inning and so now they bunt, they get a hit and that hurt. You put people on base without them really having to work very hard and that shouldn’t happen.”
In the sixth, Boyer hit Rusty Shull on the first pitch of the stanza and scored to make it 6-1. Boyer was lifted in favor of Derek Moore after the inning.
Post 23 didn’t record a hit until the eighth inning. With two outs, Patrick Riehl and Alex Hartley hit back-to-back doubles to make it 6-2, the closest Post 23 would get the rest of the game.
Post 134 added one final run in the bottom half of the eighth, a Nick Brumfield fielder’s choice to score Cline, to close the scoring. The loss for Post 23 ends the season at 32-16, with the team going 27-4 in its final 31 contests.
“Post 23 is always going to have good baseball and that’s not going to change from year-to-year,” Branon said. “Baseball’s too good in our county not to have a good team.”
Branon knows it will be another year of losing a core group because of eligibility but gaining another group from the junior ranks. The only question remains is whether or not Branon will return. He said after the game that health will be “75 percent” of the reason whether to return next year or hang it up.
Two days before the summer season started, Branon suffered a heart attack. His recovery made him miss nearly a month of action.
“I haven’t been back to the cardiologist yet so I don’t know what he’s going to say,” Branon said. “He may tell me that I’ve just about killed myself coaching baseball.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or email@example.com.
Post 23 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 — 2 2 2
Post 134 1 0 0 4 0 1 0 1 x — 7 12 1
Post 23 — Boyer 0-2 (2 BB), Shears 0-3 (SAC), Riehl 1-3 (2B, BB, R), Hartley 1-4 (2B, RBI), Moore 0-3 (BB), Hood 0-1 (3 BB), Bailey 0-3 (SAC).
Post 134 — Shannon 2-5 (RBI, R), Lucas 2-4 (BB, RBI, 2 R), Cunningham 2-4, Wright 1-3 (RBI), Cline 2-3 (HBP, 2 R), Shull 0-1 (HBP, 2 SAC, R), Burr 1-3 (BB, R), Brumfield 0-4 (RBI).
W — Wright (n/a)
L — Boyer (2-3)
Records — Post 23 32-16; Post 134 30-14.