PLYMOUTH — Plymouth Post 27 celebrated the Fourth of July with a runner-up finish at the team’s first annual Patriot Tournament.
It wasn’t quite the finish the hosts hoped for as they dropped a championship doubleheader to tourney champion East Lansing capped off by a 14-8 nine-inning loss in game two, but Post 27 claimed a solid 5-2 tourney finish for second place in the quality eight-team field Monday.
“We were pretty evenly matched, you line them up and line us up,” said Post 27 assistant coach Mike Hite. “Maybe most guys would point to them, but our guys fight just as hard and that makes a difference in baseball. We’re certainly not down we got beat two in a row. We’re happy we’re runners-up. We played good baseball for the most part.”
Five games in three days left both Plymouth’s and East Lansing’s pitching staffs depleted as they struggled to find a pitcher to finish out the nightcap Monday.
Post 27 forced the championship into extra innings as it parlayed five walks and a hit into four runs in the bottom of the seventh to knot the game at 8-all, but weary Plymouth pitchers Sean Liedtky and James Hackworth surrendered three bases on balls, a hit batsman and three hits as Post 205 plated six runs in the top of the ninth to clinch both the game and the tourney.
“East Lansing is a very good team,” said Hite. “We were fortunate enough to beat them the other night, but they came back and it seemed like they were a little hungrier or took advantage of some situations we couldn’t take advantage of. I think the bottom line was we just ran out of pitching. Their batters were in there battling every single pitch. We had Hackworth and Liedtky come back on short rest and they were hurting, gutting it out. Hats off to them. They deserve the tournament because they survived.”
Plymouth experienced similar woes on the mound early in the first game Monday as three walks and a key error led to a two-run homer and seven-run first inning by East Lansing. Post 27 battled back with five runs in the fourth and fifth frames, but the deficit proved to big to dig out of in the 8-5 loss.
The hosts were 5-0 headed into Monday’s championship at the double-elimination tourney, including a pair of narrow one-run wins over East Lansing and Excelsior Post 250 Sunday.
Plymouth plated four runs in the fifth and sixth frames and held off Excelsior for the 8-7 win in game one, and Nick Latham hit a two-run homer with one out in the bottom of the sixth to put Post 27 over the top before a solo shot from East Lansing’s Dylan Schultz brought the team’s first meeting to a 5-4 close.
“Nick Latham got all of it there,” said Hite, following Sunday’s nightcap win over East Lansing. “Chase Peters came up with a big bunt to get Sean Rogers to third after his big double, and Latham came through and just crushed it to give us a little bit of breathing room, fortunately enough because we needed all of it.
“It’s a credit to the kids. The kids have been battling. I think this makes 10 wins in a row now for us.”
The weekend’s games represented the first-ever Patriot Tournament, which featured eight teams from throughout the midwest — including Floyd Knobs Post 42, Bristol Post 143, Highland Post 180, Ottawa Post 63 and Crown Point Post 20 in addition to Excelsior and East Lansing — playing at two sites at Bill Nixon Field and Ancilla College.
“Unfortunately, we had a little bit of rain to start off Friday night, but Ancilla jumped in and really did a fantastic job hosting the other site,” said Hite. “I believe everything went well; from what I’ve heard everyone was happy with how it went down. The teams coming in, I thought we had a good mix. We had a few Indiana teams, a team from Michigan, a couple from Ohio and one from Minnesota, which makes for a good mix. You get to see different people and different programs, and there are some class American Legion programs we like to play.”
Designated hitter Brody Andrews earned his keep at the tourney with 20 RBI on a 23-for-55 performance at the plate that included four home runs, five doubles and a triple, while Sean Rogers hit a trio of homers and four doubles for 10 RBI at the tilt. Plymouth High School grad Kyle Cartwright racked up 15 hits with a homer, eight runs and seven RBI, Pilgrims teammate Peters recorded 12 hits with seven runs and three RBI, and Bremen’s Sean Knepper racked up 14 hits with a trio of triples and a home run for six RBI and 12 runs scored at the tourney.
The team will dwell on the positives as it hosts South Bend Post 50 and Kokomo Post 6 today and Wednesday, respectively, before hitting the road for the Gopher Classic in Minneapolis, Minnesota Thursday.
“This whole week, this last 10, 12 game stretch they’ve been battling everyone,” said Hite. “We’re looking for good things to continue going into Minnesota.”
• EAST LANSING 14,
PLYMOUTH 8 (9 innings)
At Bill Nixon Field
E. Lansing: 002 330 006 — 14 14 2
Plymouth: 030 100 400 — 8 7 3
Dylan Monette, Matt Ripley (5), Carlos Berroa (7), Jared Nurenberg (7), Corbin Austin (8, W) and Jeremy Lyon; Jacob Eaton, Justin Gerlowski (5), Cory Krider (6), Sean Liedtky (8, L), James Hackworth (9) and Nicholas Latham.
2B: Aaron Christenberry (P), Dylan Schultz 2 (EL), Nurenberg (EL).
• EAST LANSING 8,
At Bill Nixon Field
Plymouth: 000 140 0 — 5 8 2
E. Lansing: 710 000 X — 8 6 1
Travis Thomas (W), Dylan Monette (6) and Jeremy Lyon; Ben Saliwanchik (L), Doug Andrews (1) and Nicholas Latham.
2B: Sean Rogers (P), Brock Anson 2 (P).
HR: Rogers (P), B.J. Salazar (EL).