OTTAWA — Timely hitting.
That’s what the Lima Legion Post 96 baseball team got in its 12-7 victory over Mount Vernon/Ashley at the TAWA Classic on Saturday at the Ottawa-Glandorf Sports Complex.
Post 96 pounded 13 base hits and had eight different players get at least one hit.
In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader for Post 96, the locals recorded seven hits, but left a total of eight base runners stranded en route to an 8-3 loss to Richmond (Ind.).
With the Pool Play format, Post 96 (4-8) advances to today’s championship bracket. Lima will play Adrian, Mich. at 12:30 p.m. today. If Lima wins that game, it will play the winner of the Mount Prospect, Ill.-Bucyrus game for the championship at 3 p.m.
“I thought our swings looked a little tired in the second game,” Post 96 coach Doug Waddle said. “And we’re playing a little short-handed this week with the kids doing various things. But, these kids have hung right in there. We broke down a little bit, defensively, in the second game.”
A seven-run third inning for Post 96 paved the way for the relatively easy win over Mount Vernon/Ashley in Saturday’s opener.
Adam Purdy (Elida) had the big hit for Post 96 in the third inning against Mount Vernon/Ashley, a three-run home run over the right-field fence. Lima strung together six consecutive hits in the third, forcing Mount Vernon/Ashley starting pitcher Jayben Martin out of the game. Martin was tabbed for eight runs on seven hits, while striking out two, walking two and hitting a batter.
Mount Vernon did cut the deficit to 9-7, however, with a five-run fifth inning.
Post 96 starting pitcher Colin Stolly (Lima Central Catholic) was forced out of the game in the fifth. Stolly scattered 10 hits, striking out four and walking three. The senior right-hander threw 94 pitches. Tanner Koverman (Spencerville) took over in the fifth and closed out the game for Post 96. Koverman struck out one, walked two and hit a batter.
Post 96 scored two runs in the home half of the fifth and one more in the sixth to secure the win over Mount Vernon/Ashley.
Leading the way at the plate for Post 96 were Dalton Martz (Elida, Bluffton University) and Corey Smith (Perry). Both Martz and Smith went 3 for 4.
In the second game, Post 96 got off to a strong start, scoring three runs in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead. However, that proved to be the last time Lima would score against Richmond pitcher Payton Miracle.
Miracle went on to work all seven innings to garner the victory. Miracle scattered seven hits, while striking three and walking three.
For Post 96, Tyler Anderson (Shawnee) started on the pitching mound against Richmond. Anderson worked four innings before being lifted. He gave up four runs on four hits, while striking out three, walking three and hitting three batters. In his four innings of work, Anderson threw 89 pitches.
Doug Sanders (Bath) came in to pitch for Post 96 in the fifth. Sanders was tabbed for four runs on four hits. He struck out four and walked two.
Leading the way for Post 96, offensively, were Eric Heffner (Bath) and Stolly (LCC), who both had two hits.
“All in all, I told the kids in the last three games, offensively, we have gotten things going,” Waddle said. “And the pitching — Colin (Stolly) had a really good outing in the first game. Tanner Koverman came in to pitch for us. And in the second game, Anderson started and Sanders got some work in. That’s another thing, with the kids missing — we’re struggling to find all that pitching we have on the roster.”
In the past three games combined, Post 96 has scored 25 runs on 35 hits.
“We had a 10-plus hit game that first game and we had eight hits in the second game,” Waddle said. “So, it wasn’t horrible. I think we just got behind and pressed a little bit in the second game (against Richmond), offensively. And I told these guys that we have to be a little more mentally tough when we play close games. When we get behind, we have to stop pressing and (stop) trying to do too much.”