CHILLICOTHE — When a team has an opponent on the ropes, that said team has to come back and deliver the knockout punch in order to emerge victorious.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.
After receiving a 4-for-4 day from Oak Hill’s Shane Spriggs and a strong seven-inning performance from Waverly’s Clayton Howell, the Waverly Post 142 Shockers looked poised to obtain a huge victory that would officially propel them to the American Legion Region V Championship affair.
But unfortunately, Circleville Post 134 had other ideas. Despite trailing by a 6-1 deficit entering the bottom of the eighth frame, the No. 1-seed utilized a two-run eighth and a four-run bottom of the ninth to completely erase the Post 142 lead and send Waverly to the consolation bracket as the Shockers fell, 7-6, to Post 134 in an American Legion Region V Tournament matchup on Tuesday evening at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe.
For Jonathan Teeters, the loss was certainly disappointing considering the tone that Post 142 set over the vast majority of the affair against the tournament’s top seed.
“We shouldn’t be in the position we’re in, but nothing is going to change it,” Teeters said. “We had opportunities to add to our lead and didn’t.”
At the start of the contest, however, Post 142, as they had been against Post 62 the previous evening, were locked, loaded, and ready to go in all facets of the game.
After a leadoff flyout, Ian Gillen and Spriggs, who proved to be sparkplugs all evening at the plate for Waverly, got the ball rolling early as Gillen’s walk and Spriggs’ double put the pair on second and third. Dependable cleanup hitter Xander Carmichael followed the efforts of his teammates by launching a sacrifice fly RBI to score Gillen as Post 142 took a 1-0 lead after an inning of play.
However, the main story behind the Shockers’ success on Tuesday evening, once again, was the pitching success that came about from the hill. There, Clayton Howell followed up Eric Cook’s splendid complete-game performance on Monday with a strong showing of his own.
Waverly’s ace of the staff, who has proven himself as a strong multi-sport athlete during his time at Waverly High School, retired the first seven Post 134 batters that he faced in order and allowed just two hits — both infield singles — while retiring the side four straight times during his first six innings of work. Howell threw seven innings of six-hit baseball in all to depart the contest with the lead.
“Clayton was dealing tonight,” Teeters said. “He absolutely gave us what we asked and then some. He did his job.”
As Howell continued to handle his shift work on the mound, the Post 142 batting order continued to do its job by shifting runners on home. The starting hand helped his own cause by leading off the bottom half of the fourth, and, after two additional singles by Simms and Luke Lindamood, was able to cross the dish on a sacrifice fly from Eli Ruth. A wild pitch in the fifth inning, along with another wild pitch in the seventh following a single and a stolen base from Spriggs, allowed Waverly to increase its lead to a 4-0 tally through six-and-a-half innings of work.
Even though Post 134 was able to break through behind a double from Travis Grimm, an error, and an RBI single from Nick Salyer, Post 142 responded to the minor adversity in fine fashion by tacking on two additional tallies in the top half of the eighth frame to add to its advantage. After Simms, Lindamood, and Ruth each showed solid plate discipline by drawing a trio of walks, another wild pitch, along with a sacrifice fly RBI from Logan Kottenbrook, allowed Waverly to take a commanding 6-1 lead as the contest entered its homestretch.
However, the five-run cushion, unfortunately, did not prevent Post 134 from making a strong charge.
After Circleville collected a pair of runs on a double by Noah Cline, an error, and a sacrifice fly by Grimm that cut the margin to 6-3, Post 142 suffered an implosion as a walk by Salyer, a single to left by Brandon Harlan, and an error allowed Austin Nunamaker to drive in a run with his own single to cut the lead to 6-4. A hit batter with the bases loaded, a wild pitch, and an intentional walk set up Grimm’s game-winning sacrifice fly.
With the 7-6 loss, Post 142 fell to the consolation bracket finals, where Waverly will play Post 757 at 4 p.m. at the VA. Waverly will have to win that affair to force a rematch with Post 134 at 7 p.m., and then will have to win the 7 p.m. contest to force a winner-take-all title contest on Thursday morning at 10 a.m.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7