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August 11, 2013

Post 346 eliminated from American Legion Great Lakes Regional

Napoleon remains unbeaten in tournament

TERRE HAUTE — Three one-run rallies in 21 innings wasn’t quite enough for Wayne Newton Post 346, which saw its American Legion baseball season end with a 3-1 loss to Plover, Wis., Saturday at the Great Lakes National Regional at Bob Warn Field.

After losing 3-2 in 12 innings to Edwardsville, Ill., late Friday, the Terre Haute team got another stellar pitching performance — by Cody Brock — but sabotaged his effort by allowing two unearned runs.

“You need to score,” Terre Haute manager John Hayes said after the game. “We just couldn’t get the base hit with runners in scoring position. It’s been kind of like that all year, although certainly not for lack of effort [by the Post 346 players].”

Post 346 broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning when Preston Tofaute doubled to the right-center gap and came around on Sam Wolf’s grounder and Cody Thornton’s sacrifice line shot to center field.

A leadoff walk, a sacrifice and an error allowed Plover’s Black Sox to tie the game in the bottom of the inning, however, and they took the lead in the fifth on a hit, a sacrifice, a two-out walk and another error.

Post 346 didn’t do anything to take advantage of a leadoff walk to Tofaute in the sixth — Wolf hit a screamer, but right at the left fielder — but had a big threat in the eighth.

Zach Milam led off with his third straight single and was bunted into scoring position by Pete Lannoo. After an infield out moved Milam to third, Wolf drew a two-out walk and Thornton hit a two-hopper down the third-base line.

Thornton and first-base coach Mike Sturm agreed and television footage showed that Thornton beat the throw, but the umpire had the call that mattered.

And after that opportunity went by, Plover came up with an insurance run in the bottom of the inning on a two-out single, a delayed steal and an RBI single by Sterling King. Connor Pierce led off the ninth inning with a single, but the next three batters went down quietly.

“Our pitching in this tournament was outstanding,” Hayes said afterward. “I’m proud of each and every one of those kids [Damon Olds, Austin Hicks, Brock and reliever Lannoo].

“I don’t think some people realize how good this competition is,” the manager continued, “and we were right there with them. These kids don’t have anything to be ashamed of.”

“That’s the way the game goes, I guess,” said Brock when asked about the two unearned runs. “I just go out and pitch; I did my job, and we just hit the ball right at people.”

The tournament’s final four teams are Plover, Edwardsville, Napoleon, Ohio, and Midland, Mich. Post 346 beat one of those and lost nail-biters to two others in finishing the year 38-14.

“It’s been a great season,” Brock emphasized. “Cody Thornton has been a tremendous leader for us, always doing things to pick you up. It was a tough two losses though.”

“We won our own tourney, we were second at Paducah [Ky.], we won at Moline [Ill.], we won the sectional and regional and were second in the state,” Hayes recounted, “and hopefully we can do the same thing next year [when Post 346 is again the Great Lakes National Regional host]. … the hard thing is saying good-bye [to the kids].”

Hosting duties continue for two more days, of course. Midland plays Napoleon and Plover faces Edwardsville in games at 4 and 7 p.m. today — the team winning Saturday’s last game gets the later game — and the championship game or games are at 4 p.m. Monday.

“I’d like to thank all the people responsible for helping us put this thing on,” Hayes noted. “I’ve had so many positive comments from out-of-town people, and that’s a credit to our community.”

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