LUCASVILLE — No matter how talented a team is, it usually takes a little bit of time for said team to gel.
On Saturday afternoon, the Post 23 Senior League club suffered some unfortunate struggles against a strong Sidney Post 217 squad, with Post 23 dropping both contests of a doubleheader to Post 217, 5-1 and 13-0 in five innings, in a pair of American Legion contests at Valley High School.
For Matt Miller, the effort from his Senior League unit wasn’t where he would’ve liked it to have been.
“Honestly, I’m disappointed in the effort today,” Miller said. “We didn’t show up to play. Sidney is a very good ballclub, and, as we saw throughout both games, they hit the ball really well and they didn’t make mistakes. We knew that it was a little step up in competition and everything, but we wanted that. I wasn’t fond of the effort today.”
Throughout most of the afternoon, Post 23 struggled in the early innings as Post 217 used excellent hitting up and down the order to jump out on the young Post 23 lineup, including the first affair, where Sidney jumped out to a 5-0 lead on Portsmouth over the first five innings of play.
However, despite not having his best stuff on the mound, Tanner Kimbler continued to battle throughout the affair. The sophomore standout from Green fired a complete game performance on just 77 pitches, and only allowed one extra base hit after the second inning of play to keep the deficit manageable for Post 23.
“We showed a little bit more heart in the first game,” Miller said. “Tanner just got a few pitches up, and with a good-hitting ballclub like that, they’re going to smack it around, and they did that. Tanner was efficient. When you throw 77 pitches in seven innings, I’d usually say, ‘Hey, we win a two, three, four-run ballgame, but we ended up losing. However, we competed better in the first game. It seemed like we wanted to be there.”
After failing to score despite a single from Bradley Gee, a Billy Book walk, and a single to center field by Garrett Hurd in the fifth inning, Post 23 attempted to make one final rally as a leadoff single by Athan Temponeras and a passed ball allowed Kimbler to drive home the Wheelersburg native with his RBI single to left field. However, a two-out flyball allowed Sidney to escape without any more damage done as Post 217 took home a 5-1 victory in the first affair.
The second affair, however, did not go as smoothly for the boys in blue. Five errors in the first two innings of play, along with 11 base hits by Post 217, allowed Sidney to control the second affair from wire-to-wire. Sidney’s Kyle Noble went 1-for-2 with a double, two sacrifice flies, and four RBI to lead Post 217, while nine-hole hitter Jacob Francis (2-for-3, three RBI) and Carter Mescher (1-for-3, two RBI) led Post 217 to the victory. East’s Drew Lowe collected Post 23’s only hit in the loss.
While Post 23 certainly is young — with only two seniors on its entire roster — Miller doesn’t want to use that as a crutch for a talented group with a litany of potential.
“My message to them was essentially, ‘We’ve got to have more effort,’” Miller said. “The group that I have is very talented. We’re young, but that’s no excuse. They’re all ballplayers, they’re all stars at their respective schools, and they’re some of the best players that you’ll find in this area. Mostly, it’s just about the effort and showing up. We wanted the step-up in competition, because it’s going to make us better in the long run, but the guys have to compete in order to get better.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7