LINDEN — American Legion baseball teams from surrounding states converged onto North Montgomery High School beginning on Friday afternoon as Byron Cox Post 72 hosted the annual Crawfordsville Wooden Bat Tournament. As the tournament name suggests, teams were required to use wooden bats which is different from the standard metal bats that is normally used. Over the course of the three-day tournament, Post 72 went 2-3 overall, falling in the semi-finals against Danville, IL Post 210.
To begin the tournament on Friday afternoon Post 72 opened up against that same Post 210 team and fell 11-0 five innings. Danville used an eight-run fourth inning to seal the victory. Later that evening on Friday, Post 72 was able to right the ship with a 3-1 win over Greenville, OH Post 140. Crawfordsville’s Bryce Dowell had a very strong outing on the mound, striking out nine in six innings of work and allowing just four hits walking just one. Anderson University’s Landen Southern had two of the four hits in the game for Post 72 including a towering two-run home run to straight-away center field.
After a 1-1 day on Friday, Post 72 played another pair of games on Saturday. The first of the day came versus Moberly, MO Post 6 where the Sixers would come away with a 9-4 win over the host Post 72 despite Crawfordsville out-hitting Moberly 10-9. Southern continued to swing a hot bat adding three more hits to his weekend total. North Montgomery’s Brookes Walters also had three hits while fellow Charger Austin Sulc added two. Much like the second game on Friday, Post 72 was able to rebound in the evening game as they defeated Chicago, IL 6-4. North Montgomery’s Jarrod Kirsch had a perfect evening at the plate going 4-4 as Crawfordsville pounded out 11 total hits.
With the 2-2 record in the seeding games, Post 72 was tied with Greenville and Moberly. The tie-breaker unfortunately for Post 72 didn’t go in their favor as due to runs allowed, they fell to the fourth seed which meant they would see Danville once again.
Southern would get the nod against Danville in the semi-final game on Sunday and after a shaky first frame where Danville was able to score two runs, Southern was dialed in and was able to shut down the high powered Post 210 offense for much of the rest of the game. Offensively, Post 72 was able to get enough offense going to take a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth with Southern still on the mound. In the sixth inning after Danville got a lead-off single, Southern retired the next two batters and looked to be in the clear. However the next sequence that followed doomed Post 72 as an error, intentional walk, error, and a double all of a sudden saw Post 72’s one run lead turn into a two-run deficit as Danville grabbed a 5-3 lead. Post 72 now down to their final three outs couldn’t do anything in the top of the seventh and just like that Danville eliminated Crawfordsville in heart-breaking fashion.
Fielding has been the downfall of Post 72 this season and as they exit the tournament with an overall record of 5-11 on the season, head coach Kyle Proctor is still looking for answers to a re-occurring problem.
“We just need somebody to step up and make a routine play,” he said. “If that can’t happen then our season is going to come to an end very quickly. We’ve been looking to beat Danville for five years now and when you have a team on the ropes like that and the way Landen was throwing on the mound, we have to be able to make those simple plays. We make those plays and we win the game plain and simple.”
In his six innings of work on the mound Southern allowed six hits while only two of the five runs that Danville scored were earned. He struck out seven and walked just two.
“I wish we could have 18 Landen Southern’s” proctor said jokingly. “He’s the older guys of the group and knows how the game should be played. I wish some of our guys would really pay attention to him instead of taking things for granted. He’s one of the best pitchers in the area when he throws and our guys aren’t doing a very good job of helping him out.”
Post 72 will get their fourth look of the season against Danville as they will make the trip across the state line on Tuesday for a chance at redemption against Post 210. The following day on Wednesday they’ll make another trip to Illinois to battle Rantoul.
This upcoming weekend Post 72 will host another tournament, but it will take place at Crawfordsville High School.
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