LIMA — Momentum can be a powerful thing.
And for Lima Legion Post 96, momentum is definitely in its favor.
In Wednesday’s championship game of the District 2 American Legion Tournament, Post 96 kept its winning ways by disposing of St. Marys Post 323, 6-3, to advance to the state tournament.
Lima (21-6) won all three games of the double-elimination tournament to earn a return trip to the state tournament. The state tournament will take place July 25-31 at Lancaster.
Tyler Gallant (Defiance College/Shawnee) started on the mound for Lima. Gallant worked seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits. He struck out four, walked five and threw a total of 94 pitches.
Virgil Ellett (Shawnee) came in to pitch for Lima in the eighth. Ellett worked the final two innings to record the save. Ellett struck out one and walked one.
Lima coach Rick Koch said his team is starting to come together just at the right time of the season.
“After the five-game tournament (July 4th weekend at Prospect), we set up a (pitching) rotation and the guys knew what their roles would be,” Koch said. “Tyler (Gallant) knew he was going to get the start and he came out and really pitched well for us.
“We came out today and eliminated mistakes. We made three double plays. And when we can do that, I think our pitchers will relax more. I think we’re right were we need to be, heading into the state tournament.”
Dustin Gerlach (Wapakoneta) started for St. Marys (9-12). Gerlach worked 4 1/3 innings before giving way to Nick Coberly in the fifth.
Gerlach was touched up for five runs on four hits. He struck out three, walked six and hit a batter.
However, it was St. Marys who got the early advantage.
St. Marys scored a run in the second and added two more in the third to take a 3-0 lead.
Lima erased the goose egg in the home half of the third when Mike Bogan (Wapakoneta) had an RBI single to score Mackenzie Hampshire (Elida) from second. Hampshire got on base with a walk.
In the fourth, Keaton Sullivan (Bath) led off the inning with a blast over the left-field fence for a solo home run. Two batters later, Garrett Black (Shawnee) got on base with a walk. Luke Morgan (Shawnee) followed Black with a shot to the left-field power alley for a triple, scoring Black.
Morgan eventually came around to score when Tyler Deitering (Spencerville) struck out, but St. Marys catcher Mickie Grothause (Wapakoneta) dropped the ball and his throw to first base sailed over the first baseman, allowing Morgan to score.
Lima added two more runs in the fifth. Sullivan drove in one with a single to left. Aaron Patterson (Defiance College/Shawnee) drove in another run with a grounder to the left side of the infield, plating Justin Krebs (Wapakoneta) from third.
“We’ve left a lot of runners on base this season.” Koch said. “We knew Gerlach would throw a lot of off-speed stuff, so we took some extra batting practice to get ready for it.
“It (Sullivan’s home run) definitely got the horses running for us, tonight.”
Both Sullivan and Bogan had two hits each for Lima, while Dave Spearman led St. Marys with two hits, including a double.
St. Marys coach Bill Shaoffner said his team’s miscues in the field did not help its cause. St. Marys committed four errors on the night.
“I think we actually out-hit them (7 to 6),” Shaoffner said. “But walks and errors will hurt you. You just cannot do that against a good team like Lima.”
SNIDER EARNS TOP HONORS FOR TOURNAMENT
Mike Snider (Lima Central Catholic), the catcher for Lima Post 96, received the Most Valuable Player Award for the district tournament.
Lima Post 96 defeats St. Marys to earn state berth