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June 16, 2012

Post 346 wins close game late Friday

TERRE HAUTE — Wayne Newton Post 346’s offense generated just four hits, only one of those for extra bases, and that was only because Bristol Post 143’s centerfielder fell down fielding the ball.

So it took some solid pitching and defense to make up for their offensive deficiency.

Check (pitching) and double-check (defense) for Post 346 as they managed to eke out a 4-2 victory over Bristol Post 143 in a Terre Haute Invitational American Legion baseball game at Jennings Field late Friday night.

Jimmy Maxwell (2-1) was the winning pitcher, scattering five hits and fanning eight batters for Post 346.

On defense, Post 346 generated a pair of double plays and their outfielders threw out Bristol runners at home and third base — both times in crucial situations.

“Just four hits and we win 4-2? Not enough [hitting],” Post 346 manager John Hayes stated. “We were a little better at the end. I challenged these kids and they accepted the challenge. But we’ve got to do that earlier. We can’t wait that late in the game every game.”

This was a scoreless pitching duel through the first four innings, as Maxwell and Bristol’s Jordan Carithers traded goose eggs. Until Bristol broke through first in the top of the fifth inning, employing small ball tactics.

Ronnie Hawkins and Casey Ianigro led off reaching base on consecutive bunt singles. That strategy worked so well, Cain Crowley dropped down a sacrifice bunt fielded by Post 346 first baseman Sam Wolf.

Wolf attempted to force the lead runner at third, but his throw sailed into left field, both runners scoring for a sudden 2-0 lead. But as quickly as the rally started, it ended just as quickly.

Maxwell fanned the next two batters, while Crowley was erased attempting to steal third on a strong throw by Preston Tofaute for a double play.

Other key defensive plays were turned in by Kodie Girton (starting a relay of Girton to Decker to Tofaute to erase a runner at home in the fourth inning) and Bryan Nacke (easily throwing a runner out trying to go from first to third in the sixth inning).

“What can you say, we’ve got great arms [in the outfield],” Hayes noted. “The relay to the plate was perfect … that’s how you draw it up. They did what we work on, paid attention to detail. Let’s face it, those two throws probably saved us the game.”

Post 346 answered Bristol’s two-spot with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Tofaute blooped a single to center, but it turned into a double when the Bristol centerfielder fell down. Tofaute scored on a passed ball and wild pitch. Then with two outs, Scott West walked, Zach Milam singled sharply to left field, but the Bristol leftfielder misplayed the ball for an error.

West scored on the play with Milam advancing to second. Wolf lessened the impact of his error with a RBI-single to plate Milam for a 3-2 lead.

Carithers struggled with his control in the sixth inning, walking four batters to force in a run for an insurance tally. Carithers fanned nine batters, but walked six and hit a pair of batters before departing with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.

“It was a well-pitched game by Maxwell. You limit [Bristol] to two runs and five hits, you’ve done a good job,” Hayes said. “We need to get our bats woke up a bit, but that’s going to come.”

One scary moment in the game occurred when Maxwell, who walked just one batter, hit Bristol shortstop solidly off the helmet with a pitched ball in the fourth inning. DeFreese left as a precaution, but appeared OK after the game.

With the victory, Post 346 is 2-1 in the round-robin tournament format. Other records through Friday were Evansville Pate (2-0), Plymouth (1-1), Bristol (1-2) and Lafayette (0-2).

Post 346 (8-3) will play Evansville Pate in the final game of the day on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The top two teams will play in the championship game at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, following the third-place game at noon.

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