Retaining momentum from an amazing Saturday night comeback, Wayne Newton Post 346 got a five-hit day from Adam Craig and continued production from its new cleanup hitter Sunday in beating Napoleon (Ohio) and Mattoon (Illinois) to win the John E. Hayes Best of the Midwest Tournament for American Legion baseball.
“It feels good to win this tournament that I started to honor [my older brother] John for 31 years of service [to the Post 346 team],” exhausted Post 346 manager Tim Hayes — who will not be taking early calls this morning — said after the championship game. “It’s hard to host and win.”
Less than 12 hours after scoring five runs after two out and nobody on in the final inning Saturday to qualify for the four-team finals, Post 346 overcame Napoleon 6-5 early Sunday when a two-run single by Garrett Loyed — who else? — brought home the tying and winning runs.
Mattoon then blanked Festus (Mo.) 4-0, but ran out of pitchers for the championship game. Terre Haute scored seven runs in the fifth and sixth innings to win 8-1.
“This team [13-1 for the best start in his managerial career] keeps finding ways to win,” Tim Hayes said Sunday, “they even overcame my base coaching today.”
Post 346 took the lead in the bottom of the first inning of the championship game when Brayton Reed walked with two out, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a hit by Loyed, giving the catcher/outfielder six RBI in three games since being put fourth in the batting order on Saturday.
Mattoon tied the game with a run in the third and it was still knotted going into the bottom of the fifth.
Pierson Barnes led off that inning with a double, and with one out he scored on a two-bagger by Craig. Loyed was intentionally walked with two out — another first, he confirmed after the game — and both runners scored (Loyed all the way from first) on a single by Tristan Elder.
(Sending Loyed home was his gamble that worked, Hayes said later. Craig had been thrown out earlier in the game trying to stretch his first double, and after his two-run single Elder was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a double by Evan Newman.)
After Mattoon got four hits in the top of the sixth without scoring, four more Terre Haute runs came home in the bottom of the inning, the big blow a two-run single by Craig, and the home team was a winner of a second straight tournament — winning at Festus last weekend — and won a tournament at home for the first time in Tim Hayes’ tenure.
“It feels great,” Craig said afterward. “It was good to come back from last night’s game knowing what we can do if we stick together as a team. As long as we keep hitting the ball, and not right at people, we can go a long way.”
The 16-team tournament had to be truncated slightly because of rain on both Friday and Saturday — plus two lightning delays during Sunday’s championship contest — and had several changes of venue, keeping Hayes on the move or on the telephone for most of the last four days.
“You’re taking a big gamble about the weather when you’re trying to make it a big tournament,” he said, “and when the weather goes bad, that makes it hard on everybody . . . it seemed like I was always hauling concessions someplace. But our parents were terrific, and we also have some community volunteers [mentioning scoreboard operator Kirk Fonner] who also did a great job.”
• Post 346 6, Napoleon 5 — Craig and Elder were both 2 for 3, Elder driving in a run; Cole Whitlock was 1 for 3 with a triple; and Loyed was 1 for 2 with a game-winning two-run single. Will Kelly was winning pitcher in relief, with Ethan Newman getting a save.
MATTOON (AB-R-H-RBI) — Johnson rf 3-0-0-0, Smith ss 4-0-1-1, Laughan 3b 4-0-0-0, Smyser c 3-0-1-0, Birdsong 1b-2b 3-0-2-0, Scott lf-p 2-0-1-0, Garza dh 3-0-0-0, Slater p-1b 0-0-0-0, Owens 2b-p-lf 3-0-2-0, Spitz cf 1-1-1-0, Prater ph-cf 2-0-0-0. Totals 28-1-8-1.
TERRE HAUTE (AB-R-H-RBI) — Whitlock rf 3-1-0-0, Craig cf 4-2-3-3, Reed 3b 3-1-1-0, Loyed c 3-1-2-1, Elder 1b 4-0-1-2, Ev.Newman 2b-p 3-0-1-0, Et.Newman p-2b 3-1-1-0, Kelly ss 2-0-0-0, Barnes lf 3-2-2-0. Totals 28-8-11-6.
Mattoon 001 000 0 — 1
Terre Haute 100 034 x — 8
E — Ev.Newman, Owens, Smith. DP — Mattoon 1. LOB — Mattoon 6, TH 5. 2B — Birdsong, Craig 2, Barnes, Ev.Newman. SB — Ev.Newman. SH — Johnson.
Mattoon IP H R ER BB SO
Slater (L) 5 8 4 4 3 1
Owens 1/3 2 3 3 0 1
Scott 2/3 1 1 0 0 0
Terre Haute IP H R ER BB SO
Et.Newman 32/3 4 1 1 0 2
Ev.Newman (W) 31/3 4 0 0 0 3
HBP — by Et.Newman (Scott), by Owens (Whitlock). WP — Slater, Et.Newman. Bk — Scott. T — 2:10 (plus two lightning delays for 58 minutes).
Next — Wayne Newton Post 346 (13-1) begins play Saturday at the Firecracker Tournament at Rapid City, S.D.