The Gahanna American Legion Post 797A baseball team hit the ball fairly well during its four-game run in the District 12 tournament.

The Gahanna American Legion Post 797A baseball team hit the ball fairly well during its four-game run in the District 12 tournament.

The only problem for Post 797A was that it didn't always hit the ball particularly well when it had runners on base, as it demonstrated during a 10-4 loss to Southway (Central Crossing) Post 144 on July 22. Despite having 10 hits, Post 797A stranded 11 runners during the first six innings alone and left 12 on base overall.

Post 797A finished 9-20 overall as it was ousted from the double-elimination tournament. It had opened tournament play with a 4-1 loss to Hilliard Post 614A on July 19 before beating Bexley (Hartley) Post 430 10-2 on July 20 and Hilliard Post 614D by forfeit on July 21.

"We hit the ball well against Central Crossing, we just didn't have timely hitting in that game," coach Gayle Kanz said. "Having that many hits in one game is good for us, but we left too many guys on base early when we could have taken control of the game. Central Crossing is a strong team and we left them hanging around too long, and they came back and beat us."

John Oty drove in a run with a single in the first inning to put Post 797A ahead 1-0, but his team ended the inning with three runners on base.

Post 797A pulled ahead 4-3 in the top of the third inning. Oty drove in a run with a single and later scored on a fielder's choice. Drew Laurent capped the scoring by taking home after a Post 144 player made a bad throw in the infield.

"We scored some runs early, but we had opportunities to score a lot more," Kanz said. "We left 11 guys on base through six innings, and you can't do that against a good team and expect to win."

After giving up four runs in the first five innings, pitcher Tyler Shapaka opened the sixth inning with three consecutive walks before being replaced by Joel Clark. After Clark recorded two outs and allowed one run on a fielder's choice, he surrendered a three-run home run to Jake Duffy, which put Central Crossing ahead 8-4.

Post 144 scored runs in the seventh and eighth on the way to the victory.

"We made three defensive errors and gave up too many walks, and that hurt us more than the home run," Kanz said. "Tyler pitched well. He had seven strikeouts and gave up only two earned runs in the first five innings. But he had just come back from a week-long vacation and it was a humid day, and I think he was tiring in the sixth.

"The thing I'm most pleased with is there was no quit in our team. Brandon Berger reached base in the ninth inning and we had two deep fly outs in that inning, too. The kids never gave up."

With just one regular player from the Gahanna Lincoln High School team in first baseman John Beatty and a first-year coach in Kanz, Post 797A lost nine of its first 10 games.

It followed with a five-game winning streak, but won just one of its final nine regular-season games to finish 5-11 in District 12.

"We were a young team, but we were in most of these games," Kanz said. "John Beatty is our only graduate, and we've got a lot of good young players moving up to play varsity next year. I'm looking forward to watching these guys play baseball for their high school team in the future. I believe the experience they gained here will help prepare them for varsity baseball."