Diamond Spyders get set for annual Patriot Tournament

The 5th Annual Hoosier Bat Patriot Tournament begins Thursday, and with four games in two days heading into the seeded tournament rounds Saturday and Sunday, teams' bullpens at the annual tilt will be heavily tested.
There are 10 teams in the Patriot Tourney field, and they'll play a minimum of five games in three days. Pool play begins Thursday and continues through Friday. Host Plymouth Post 27, Three Oaks, Mich. Post 204, Valparaiso Post 94/170, Piqua, Ohio Post 184 and Stevensville, Mich. Post 568 each play two games on both Thursday and Friday at Bill Nixon Field, while Bristol Post 143, Kokomo Post 6, Valpo Post 94, Ajax, Canada and Highland Post 180 are scheduled to play two games apiece on both days at Ancilla College's Charger Field in Donaldson.
In order to win the whole shebang, a team would play in a minimum of seven games over four days and potentially eight if they were to enter the elimination round as one of the lowest two seeds in either pool. Such a hectic schedule makes planning pitching rotations a challenge for coaching staffs, but with a number of viable arms — the Post 27 roster lists all but five of its 19 players as potential pitchers — Diamond Spyders coach Nick Chaney says his squad is ready to roll.
"Going into the tournament, I'm really happy with where our pitching staff is. We got a really good outing from (Zach) Witt tonight, and he'll be a guy that we go to later in the weekend as he's just pitched on Tuesday so he won't be available until the end," said Chaney after a 5-4 win over visiting Bristol Post 143 Tuesday night. "But the other guys that pitched tonight — (Drew) McDonald and (David) Bacon coming in and getting the save — those guys didn't throw too many pitches so they'll be ready to go around Friday or Saturday. Our pitching staff is set up for the weekend, and we're ready to go."
Along with the aforementioned trio, Tyler LaFollette, Bryce Bustamante, Pedro Lopez, Kevin Hawley and Caleb Mikesell have all provided some bright spots on the mound for the Spyders this season. But it's not his pitching staff that has Chaney concerned.
Post 27 has had an up-and-down season, but that has had a lot less to do with pitching and hitting than it has with defense, says the Spyders' assistant head coach. The errors have occasionally piled up on Plymouth this year, and when they have, the results haven't been good.
"To win the Patriot Tournament you've got to play a lot of games. The one thing that has a little bit of an advantage on the pitching side of it is you're playing against wooden bats. If you throw strikes, you're going to get guys to throw themselves out. Now you're defense has got to help you out too. We've got more than enough pitching to win it if our defense shows up behind them," said Chaney.
"When you extend innings by not picking the ball up and making errors, it just lengthens out the life of the game, and, consequently, your pitchers have got to throw more pitches. You're getting the same amount of outs, but you're getting a heck of a lot more pitches to get those outs," he continued. "Like I said, that goes back to some of the problems we've had this year where we're getting really good pitching performances and then we're getting an error and another hit, and the next thing you know you've got 20 more pitches in the inning and we're forced to take the kid out maybe an inning too early. Whereas if we make that play, we save 20 pitches that inning and the next thing you know we've got another inning on the back end where we can have our starter go."
Adding an interesting wrinkle to the tourney is the fact that not all of Post 27's coaching staff will be available with the IHSAA Moratorium Week taking place this week. Assistant coaches Ryan Wolfe and Brent Corbett are the head coach and an assistant coach at Plymouth High School, respectively, and with PHS players on the Diamond Spyders' roster, the coaches are forbidden contact with them until July 6.
Head coach Will Hostrawser is expected to be on hand, however, as are Chaney and manager Dean Colvin, and Chaney says he doesn't expect the moratorium to have much impact on the tourney.
"The coaching staff is very fluid. When you show up to the ball park that night you've just got to understand your roles with who is here," he said. "A lot of the guys have a lot going on in their personal life, and when they make it to the ball park they make it to the ball park, and you kind of fit into your role and find your role with who is here. Tonight I took over kind of the field managing position because it was just the judge (Colvin) and I. When Will is here, he kind of makes a lot of the calls that the judge and I were making tonight.
"It's really not that big of a deal. The players are the guys who've got to play. They're the guys that have got to pitch the ball. They're the guys that have got to catch it and hit it. We just try and fit in as well as we can, and hopefully nobody notices us."