Post 27 falls to Mishawaka at regional
PLYMOUTH — Missed opportunities made all the difference as Plymouth Post 27 fell not once but twice to Mishawaka Post 161 at Indiana American Legion Baseball Regional 1 at Bill Nixon Field over the weekend.
The Diamond Spyders loaded the bases early but couldn’t break through until the ninth in a 4-1 loss to Mishawaka in their tournament opener Saturday. After rebounding with a 12-2, seven-inning rout of South Bend Post 50 in the nightcap Saturday, Post 27 left 13 runners stranded on base — and left the bases packed with the game-winner on first in the bottom of the 11th — in a 5-3 extra-inning loss to Post 161 in the semifinal Sunday. Mishawaka went on to lose 8-3 to tournament champion Porter County Post 94 in the finale Sunday evening.
The good news for Plymouth is that it lives to compete another day, receiving an automatic berth as the host of the state tournament beginning Thursday at Bill Nixon Field.
MISHAWAKA POST 161 5, PLYMOUTH POST 27 3 (11 inn.)
After failing to get on the scoreboard in its tourney opener with Mishawaka, Plymouth jumped on top 2-0 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, then tacked on another in the second following a one-run top half of the inning by Post 161 to maintain a 3-1 lead.
But Mishawaka held the Diamond Spyders scoreless for the remainder, scoring runs in the third and fifth frames to force extra innings before closer Trey Bickel’s RBI double drove in the game-winner in the top of the 11th.
Bickel was trouble for Plymouth throughout the tournament.
Following his complete nine-inning pitching win over Post 27 in the two teams’ opener Saturday, he doubled in Caleb Birkey with two-outs following Birkey’s one-out single in the top of the third to cut the Spyders’ lead to 3-2 in Sunday’s semifinal, then tied the game up in the fifth when he reached on an error at short with two out, advancing to third on consecutive walks by Post 27 starter Wally Dickman and stealing home during a C.J. Swartz at-bat to knot the game at 3-all. He chased Mishawaka reliever Steve Wisser in the bottom of the 11th, working his way out of a bases-loaded jam as he fanned Plymouth three hitter Tanner Andrews to earn himself the save.
“He’s done a lot in the last couple days,” said Post 27 head coach Tony Plothow of Bickel. He’s been a thorn in our side for sure. He made some big plays today and he pitched again. I thought we had him again. We had the bases loaded, but we just couldn’t come through.”
All total, Post 27 left 13 runners stranded in the semifinal, including nine in scoring position. The Spyders stayed hot at the plate following a 13-hit outing against South Bend earlier Sunday, cranking out nine hits against Mishawaka’s pitching staff but couldn’t find the timely hit after jumping out to a 3-1 lead.
“It seemed like nobody really wanted that game; everybody just made so many mistakes to let the game keep continuing,” said Plothow. “We had opportunities in a couple innings. Even that last inning we had our tying run on second and our scoring run on base. We just didn’t have anybody step up clutch and come up big when we needed them to.”
“Wally pitched great, (James) Hack(worth) pitched great coming in. They both pitched well enough to win, we just didn’t come through,” he added.
Plymouth got on top early as Bremen short stop Sean Knepper singled and reached second on a late overthrow from third to lead off the game for Post 27, and James Hackworth looped a single into shallow right. Tanner Andrews singled through the gap at second to score Knepper, and Hackworth scored on a sac fly to right by Brody Andrews to put the Spyders up 2-nil.
Jordan Gosztola led off the top of the second with a single, and Post 161 designated hitter Caleb Saffell drove him in with a fielder’s choice ball to short to cut the advantage to 2-1.
But Plymouth stretched its lead back to two runs in the bottom of the second, as catcher Nick Latham drew a two-out walk, advanced to second on a fielding error at short on a Knepper grounder. Latham scored from on a wild pick-off throw to first from Mishawaka starter Jordan Gard, but Knepper was thrown out trying to reach third on the error to end the inning.
Birkey and Reed Hostetler tapped out back-to-back one-out singles in the top of the third. Hostetler was run down by Post 27 first baseman Sean Liedtky for the second out of the inning, but Bickle doubled to the left field fence to plate Birkey before Dickman could get out of the jam to cut Post 161’s deficit to one.
Bickle reached on an error at short with two outs in the top of the fifth, eventually stealing home after Dickman walked the bases loaded to tie the game up at 3-3.
James Hackworth took the loss on the mound relieving Dickman in the seventh and giving up six hits for two unearned runs while striking out four with a hit batter and a walk. Wisser was credited with the win for Mishawaka, giving up one hit for no runs with three strikeouts and two walks in nine batters faced relieving Gard in the bottom of the ninth.
Post 27 will play Regional 1 champion Porter County in the late game of the five-team state tournament Thursday at 7:30 pm., after Post 94’s undefeated run through the Plymouth tourney, which included a pair of wins over Mishawaka, 3-2 and 8-3.
“We get to play next week, but we know we’re going to see better teams than what we just saw,” Plothow said. “Hopefully we can get some things figured out and learn some things and move on.”
• MISHAWAKA POST 161 5,
PLYMOUTH POST 27 3 (11 inn.)
At Bill Nixon Field, Plymouth
Mishawaka: 011 010 000 02 — 5 13 4
Plymouth: 210 000 000 00 — 3 9 3
Wally Dickman, James Hackworth (7, L); Jordan Gard, Steven Wisser (9, W), Trey Bickle (11, Sv)
2B: Tanner Andrews (P)Bickle (M) 2, Caleb Birkey (M)
PLYMOUTH POST 27 12, SOUTH BEND POST 50 2 (7 inn.)
Plymouth Post 27 squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in its regional-opening loss to Mishawaka, but after leaving the pillows packed again in the top of the first against Post 50 the Diamond Spyders seemed determined not to waste its opportunities, scoring four runs in the second to grab a 4-0 lead and never looking back in a 12-2, seven-inning runs-ahead win over South Bend.
Plymouth batters shelled Post 50’s pitching staff for 13 hits in the abbreviated victory, including a two-out solo shot straight out to center by Bremen product Eric Knepper in the top of the fifth that pushed Plymouth’s lead to 10-2, and a pair of doubles by fellow outfielder James Hackworth, the former a two-out, three-run fly to the centerfield fence that got the Spyders’ scoring started in the second inning.
“The first game we didn’t get anything done offensively, but tonight Hackworth finally broke us open in the second,” said Post 27 head coach Tony Plothow. “It seemed like we had a pretty good groove going. We put pressure on them every inning, and we took advantage of some mistakes.”
Indeed, the entire Plymouth order produced in the win over Post 50.
Hackworth scored twice, Sean Knepper went 3-for-5 with a walk and a run, Brock Anson and Eric Knepper each reached base four times — with two singles and two RBI and a run and an RBI respectively — and Brody and Tanner Andrews and Sean Liedtky all reached three times, with Tanner scoring a run in the top of the fourth and Liedtky scoring two runs in the third and fourth innings. Nick Latham also scored twice, the first time after drawing a two-out walk to get things rolling for Plymouth in the second, and the second after an RBI double in the fourth.
With plenty of run support, Clayton Adamson put in an efficient outing on the mound, surrendering just three hits for three runs in five innings of work before John Glenn closer Tyler Niespodziany relieved him in the sixth.
Adamson’s showing was made all the more impressive given the fact that Wally Dickman was originally slated for the start against South Bend.
“He’s pitched well for us,” said Plothow. “His last outing was at the Cove, and he pitched well up there. If he hadn’t of gone today if we had won we would have gone with him, so we just switched things up. We’re happy to move on.”
• PLYMOUTH POST 27 12, SOUTH BEND POST 50 2 (7 inn.)
Plymouth: 041 410 2 — 12 13 1
South Bend: 000 011 X — 2 5 3
Connor Sweeney (L), Jordan Gates (3), Zach Fozo (5); Clayton Adamson (W), Tyler Niespodziany (7)
2B: James Hackworth (P) 2, Matt Gray (SB)
HR: Eric Knepper (P)
MISHAWAKA POST 161 4, PLYMOUTH POST 27 1
It looked like Plymouth would jump out to a fast start, but as quickly as he opened the door, Mishawaka Post 161 pitcher Trey Bickel slammed it shut.
Eric Knepper was hit by a pitch in the leadoff spot, and Brock Anson and James Hackworth loaded the bases with consecutive hits with none out, but Bickel settled in with three straight strikeouts to keep the Diamond Spyders from scoring.
At the plate in the bottom of the inning, Bickel drew a two-out walk from John Glenn alum and Manchester product Sean Liedtky, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single to right by Jordan Gosztola to put Mishawaka on top 1-0.
Post 161 struck again in the fourth when C.J. Swartz drew a one-out walk, and, after Dillon Papa was caught in a heads-up rundown at third for the second out of the inning, Swartz stole second and scored on an overthrow from short on a routine grounder from Jordan Gard to put Mishawaka up 2-0.
The home team on the scoreboard plated two more runs for good measure in the eighth as Danny Eggleston doubled to center, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Caleb Birkey and scored on a double down the left field line from Alex Hostetler, and Hostetler scored an unearned run on a fielder’s choice to third following an infield error on a Bickel grounder to push Mishawaka’s lead to 4-0.
Plymouth finally broke through in the ninth when Shay Hepler reached second with two out as Birkey and Chris Lippert collided on Hepler’s fly ball to right and Sean Knepper singled him home with a fly to center, but the rally proved too little, too late.
The Spyders wasted a solid six-hit, three run complete outing by Liedtky as Bickel racked up nine strikeouts for the win.
“We let a great opportunity go in the first inning, maybe let him off the ropes with maybe not some of the best at-bats we had in the game and that we’ve had for the last couple weeks,” said Plymouth head coach Tony Plothow. “I thought Sean matched him pitch for pitch… It’s one of those things where last week he pitched like this and we finally got the lead late in the tournament, but today we just couldn’t get it done.”
• MISHAWAKA POST 161 4, PLYMOUTH POST 27 1
Plymouth: 000 000 001 — 1 3 2
Mishawaka: 100 100 02x — 4 6 2
Sean Liedtky (L); Trey Bickel (W)
2B: Alex Hostetler (M), Danny Eggleston (M).