PDT Sports Writer
WHEELERSBURG — It didn’t take long for Post 23 Saturday to match the number of runs they scored in the first two days of the 2013 Gene Bennett Classic combined.
Not only did Post 23 score two runs in its first at-bats of the day, the club went on to score 12 runs on the day to earn a split in the final two scheduled games. Coach Jack Branon knew his team needed to have a huge day offensively.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about, it’s what we’ve been wanting to have happen,” Branon said. “In the first game, we got some key hits and made some plays. In the second game, all of a sudden, we just started hitting the ball.”
Post 23 took an early 2-0 lead at West High School on the Bullett Proof Baseball Academy — a team based out of Welland, Ontario and under the direction of former Major League outfielder Scott Bullett, who played for the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates — thanks to three hits. However, the Prospects shut down the Post 23 bats for the next five innings, allowing four baserunners during the duration.
While Post 23 was not able to build upon its lead prior to the seventh, Bullett Proof’s Nick Spillman was a one-man wrecking crew. The shortstop tripled in the fourth and scored on an RBI groundout by Dan Smith then became the tying run in the sixth after a walk and scored on a Daniel Krasulja squeeze attempt.
Brady Johnson started the seventh with a double and scored the go-ahead run when Matt Penix reached on a bases-loaded walk. Daulton Kenyon provided the game-winning and insurance runs three pitches later with a two-run single to score Luke Morgan and Trevar Welch.
Dylan Miller, who switched positions in the battery with starting pitcher Philip ‘Flip’ Cassidy in the sixth, allowed an RBI single in the seventh but left Spillman in the on-deck circle with two runners on base to end the game and give Post 23 its third win in the tournament in four years of participation.
The momentum rolled to the second game at Wheelersburg High School against the Dayton Classics. Despite digging a 5-0 hole heading into the bottom of the third, Post 23 rallied to score seven of the next nine runs — highlighted by a two-run home run in the fourth by Alex Shears — to tie the game at 7 a peice going into the sixth inning.
“That’s the thing we’ve been really lacking is just not hitting the ball hard enough and not creating situations,” Branon said. “We were able to do some things. We were finally able to run a little bit, finally able to squeeze on that one play (by Kenyon in the fifth to score Zach Brown) and we were able to do some things that you’d like to do but can’t when you’re down 8-0.”
Unfortunately, the Classics scored the final four runs of the contest to leave with an 11-7 decision. The exclamation point came in the seventh thanks to a solo home run by Jonathan Stone, who was 4-for-4 with three RBI, two runs and a triple shy of the cycle.
Despite the distance in the final two frames, Branon felt his team was close to sweeping the day.
“We were about one hit from winning that,” Branon said.
After six games in three days, Branon feels his club is starting to gel at the right time as a score of players return to the lineup next week from various absences.
“The fact that we had 11 guys and nobody’s worried about coming out of the game because they know nobody’s coming out, everybody’s playing,” Branon said. “You’re out there for the duration. I think that helps us.”
Post 23 will have an off day Sunday before starting a stretch in which they’ll play back-to-back doubleheaders Monday and Tuesday at home, travel to Ashland, Kentucky, for a Wednesday twin bill and to Chillicothe for a tournament that starts Friday.
Cody Leist cna be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or email@example.com. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.
Post 23 200 000 3 — 5 7 1
Bullett Proof 000 101 1 — 3 5 1
Post 23 — Kenyon 2-3 (BB, 2 RBI, R), Knittel 1-3 (BB, R), Miller 2-4 (RBI), Johnson 1-3 (2B, RBI, R), Morgan 0-3 (R), Welch 0-2 (BB, R), Brown 1-3, Penix 0-0 (2 BB, SAC, RBI).
Bullett Proof — Lewis 1-4 (RBI), Spillman 2-2 (3B, BB, SB, 2 R), Smith 0-3 (RBI), Krasulja 0-1 (2 BB, SB, RBI), Procyshyn 0-2 (BB), Porter 0-2 (HBP, R), Guild 1-2 (BB), Annear 0-2 (HBP, SB).
W — Miller (1-0)
L — Godden (n/a)
Records — Post 23 2-8; Bullett Proof n/a.
Dayton 311 111 3 — 11 18 1
Post 23 003 220 0 — 7 5 3
Dayton — Huggins 1-4 (SAC, 2 SB, RBI, R), Combs 1-5 (RBI, R), Niemeyer 1-3 (2 BB, RBI, R), Stone 4-4 (2B, HR, BB, 3 RBI, 2 R), Davis 1-4 (RBI), Annett 3-5 (2 R), Berner 0-5 (2 R), Banke 2-4 (2B, SAC, 2 RBI, R), Shenefield 3-4 (RBI, R).
Post 23 — Kenyon 0-4 (2 RBI), Miller 1-3 (RBI, R), Shears 1-2 (HR, BB, 2 RBI, R), Johnson 1-3, Howard 0-2 (SAC), Morgan 0-2 (HBP, R), Cassidy 0-3 (R), Brown 1-3 (2B, BB, RBI, 2 R), Penix 1-3 (2B, RBI, R).
W — Knotts (n/a)
L — Kenyon (0-1)
Records — Dayton n/a; Post 23 2-9.