By Josh Brown
PIQUA — Half of Troy Post 43’s runs came with two outs, and more than half scored assisted by the opposition’s errors.
But when Piqua Post 184 got chances in the final three innings to close the gap that that created, it simply couldn’t get the job done — with some help from Troy’s pitching.
Post 43 made the most of the opportunities it was given on offense, and three pitchers combined to strike out 13 Post 184 batters and strand four runners over the course of the last three innings as Troy defeated Piqua 6-4 in the first meeting between the teams this summer Monday at Hardman Field.
For Piqua (6-2), it all began with giving those chances away.
“We had four errors tonight, four costly errors,” Post 184 coach Jim Roberts said. “Cameron (Gordon) pitched well, but we just couldn’t make the plays for him. And we’re just not hitting. We haven’t found it yet, found our groove yet.”
Gordon went the distance for Piqua, only giving up two earned runs and striking out four while walking none, hitting a batter and giving up 11 hits.
But Post 43 (5-5) got things going early. Trenton Wood reached on a two-base dropped fly ball in the outfield to lead off the second, scoring on a one-out RBI single by Ryan Lavy to break the scoreless tie, with Lavy advancing to second on the throw home. Zach Thompson then drove him in with a single up the middle, stole second and scored on a two-out RBI single by Evan Bowling to give Post 43 a 3-0 lead.
“We were hoping to get things moving tonight,” Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said. “We ran the bases much better tonight than we have, stole a number of bases that led to runs. You have to manufacture some things, especially tonight because they robbed us on some great shots in the outfield.”
Piqua fought back immediately, though. After Troy starter Reid Ferrell had struck out the side in a one-two-three first inning, Brandon Wysong led off the second with a towering solo shot by waiting back on a curveball. Buddy Nix followed that up by yanking a fastball over the fence in left — practically in the exact same spot — to cut the lead to 3-2 on back-to-back homers.
“That was pretty exciting,” Roberts said of the home runs. “But we’re just not consistent all the way through the lineup. We’ve got a lot of young guys, and they’re still adjusting.”
Luke Gephart then drew a walk, advanced to second on a groundout and scored to tie the game on a throwing error that would have been the third out.
“We were going to split the game up anyway, but we had that long three-run second inning, and I think Reid just had to sit too long,” Brown said. “But give our pitchers a lot of credit. We struck out a lot of people today.”
Ferrell got into more trouble in the third, giving up a leadoff single to Brandon Kirk and a walk to Jeff Paul before giving way to Matt Deskins. The hard-throwing righty got the next two outs before an infield single by Taylor Baumeister loaded the bases. But Deskins got a grounder to first to keep the game tied.
And in the top of the fourth, Troy maid Piqua pay for a pair of errors to start the inning. Jimmy Pelphrey reached on a bobbled grounder, then Lavy reached as Post 184 threw away a potential double play ball. An infield single by Thompson loaded the bases with no outs, but Gordon got a popup for the first out. One run scored on an RBI groundout by Bowling, though, and Greg Peffley drove in another with a two-out RBI single — but Piqua right fielder Noah Gertner threw out a Troy runner trying to take third on the play to keep the damage to only two runs.
Post 184 got a run back in the bottom of the fourth as Gernet reached on an error to lead off, was bunted to second by Jesse Wilson and scored on an RBI single by Arron Boerger. But that would be all the Piqua offense would get the rest of the way as Deskins and Lavy combined to allow only one hit in the final five innings.
Peffley gave Post 43 an insurance run with a two-out RBI single in the sixth that made it 6-4, and even though Boerger led off the bottom of the ninth with a double for Post 184, Lavy got a lineout to third and a pair of strikeouts to end the game.
“We’re younger, and we’ve been error-prone — especially to start off innings,” Brown said. “We still need to find ourselves. Really, we just need to play more. Hopefully the weather holds off and we can get some of these games in the rest of the week.”
Wysong had another shot for Piqua as what proved to be the game’s final batter, hitting a ball with two outs that would have tied the game had it stayed fair. But it was well foul, and Lavy got a called third strike to seal it.
“Brandon hit that towering fly ball that would have tied the game,” Roberts said. “It was an exciting end. It’s always a good game between us. They’re always competitive and well-coached.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 440-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.