It was a good weekend of playoff prep for Byron Cox Post 72 baseball with a pair of wins Saturday at Muncie as the state tournament draws near.
An 8-2 win over Greenville, OH and a come-from-behind 7-6 win over Muncie made the road trip worthwhile for the local Legion team, who moves to 14-10 with the wins.
“We only had nine guys able to play Saturday,” Post 72 coach Kyle Proctor said. “We had some guys who had to play out of their regular positions and we had guys who have usually been on the bench come up with big days”
One of the guys not out of position, though, was Landen Southern.
The Clinton Prairie product struck out 15 and didn’t walk a batter in a complete Game 1 win.
Throwing a first-pitch strike to 21 of the 29 hitters he faced, he threw the maximum allowed 105 pitches, ending the game on a strikeout.
“He found his breaking ball in the second inning,” Proctor said, “and from then on, they couldn’t touch him.”
He was also continued to swing a hot bat.
After three home runs and a handful of RBI last week, Southern had three more hits and drove in three more runs against Greenville.
He capped off a big day with a pair of hits and three more RBI in the second game against Muncie.
“To say he has been hot lately is an understatement,” Proctor said, “but we’ve had guys like Jacob Braun (North Montgomery) and Henry Taylor (Crawfordsville) who have also been hot lately. We had Camden Proctor (West Lafayette) and Brian Dobbels (Attica) come up with big hits Saturday. They haven’t had as many at-bats and they came up big.”
In Game 1, Post 72 was trailing 2-1 after three innings before the bats got going.
A run in the fourth tied the game, followed by three runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings, which was all the margin Southern needed on the mound.
Five of the six last runs came with two outs, a note noticed by the coach.
“We have really started coming up with some timely hits,” Proctor said. “We also have been moving runners well and making good contact.”
Southern’s three hits and three driven in were complemented by Zach Fichter (Crawfordsville), who had three hits and two RBI, and Drew Bradley (Danville, IN), who had two hits.
Game 2 saw Post 72 fall behind as much as 6-2 before mounting the comeback, scoring three runs in the fifth and then two in the seventh to take the lead back.
“They guys just had a never-quit attitude,” Proctor said of his nine. “We fell behind, but we just kept coming up with a key hit or two here and there, manufacturing a run, creating a run. We even got a couple bunts down, stole several bases and all the guys were really into the game.”
Muncie put up five runs in the second inning to take a 5-2 lead and got another in the fourth to lead 6-2, but were unable to score a run off of Drew Bradley (Danville, IN) who came in to relieve Taylor.
Taylor gave up only one hit in his three innings and picked up the win.
In the fifth, Dobbels singled to start the rally, followed by Owen Gregg (North Montgomery) and Matthew Harris (Tri-West) singles that loaded the bases.
Southern delivered a two RBI single and Braun followed with a single that scored one.
In the deciding seventh, Braun got things going with a double, and Taylor drove him in with a single.
Moving to second on a passed ball, Taylor scored on a Fichter single.
Overall, Taylor finished with three hits, while Gregg, Southern, Braun and Dobbels each had two.
After a Sunday game against Rantoul, IL was cancelled, Post 72 has won five of their last seven, and has a road game left on Tuesday to Danville, IL to finish the regular season before heading to Terre Haute Friday for the first game in their double-elimination regional tournament. They will play Terre Haute Post 346 on Friday. Sullivan is the other team in the three-team regional. Games continue on Saturday and the tournament concludes Sunday.
The winner of the regional will advance to the State Finals, an eight-team double elimination tourney, in Kokomo, the weekend of July 22-25.