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June 15, 2014

Patriots’ success leaves Post 346 a little shorthanded for tourney

TERRE HAUTE — John Hayes faces a situation this week that may be unique in his tenure as manager of Wayne Newton Post 346’s American Legion baseball team.

No, it’s not being undefeated after two weeks of the season.

That’s happened several times in Hayes’ years with the team.

This year, however, he and his team will host the annual Terre Haute Invitational — if history is a guide, more than half of the tournament field will reunite at the state tournament later this summer — without having its players from Terre Haute North High School.

The Patriots will play Noblesville on Friday night for the Class 4A state championship at Victory Field in Indianapolis.

Theoretically that would make the Patriots eligible for legion play by Saturday night — although Hayes would be one of the folks hoping they are still celebrating by that time.

“I’d love to go over there Friday night and see North play,” Hayes admitted after Sunday’s doubleheader, “but it wouldn’t be fair to the other teams [Evansville Pate, Lafayette, Bristol and newcomer Lake Village].”

Terre Haute is guaranteed to be short-handed for its Thursday and Friday games, and only the top four teams in the field survive for the third-place and championship games Sunday.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Hayes predicted. “We’ve been playing with anywhere from two to five of our junior legion kids. … We’ll see what happens. If we take our lumps, we take our lumps — but hey, we’re 6-0.”

Post 346 got to that record with a pair of doubleheader sweeps over the weekend, downing Greene County 11-1 and 10-2 on Sunday at North’s Don Jennings Field and beating Remington 10-5 and 7-6 on Saturday.

Mitchell Clinkenbeard, who might not necessarily be in the team’s pitching rotation after Post 346 is at full strength, had a complete-game five-hitter in Sunday’s opener.

Clinkenbeard homered in the second game and Damon Bass, who is on the team more for his arm than his bat, also pitched a five-hitter in the second game but was also 3 for 3 with two doubles and three RBI.

Comeback wins were the order of the day on Saturday as Cody Brock and Nate Thomas picked up complete-game victories.

Brock not only struck out 14 batters in the first game againts Remington but he also contributed two doubles, a homer and seven RBI.

In the second game, Thomas was on the hook for a potential loss until he and his teammates rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

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