The Southway (Central Crossing) American Legion baseball team was not encouraged by its start in the District 12 tournament, a 19-4 loss to Northwest (Upper Arlington) Post 443 on July 19.

The Southway (Central Crossing) American Legion baseball team was not encouraged by its start in the District 12 tournament, a 19-4 loss to Northwest (Upper Arlington) Post 443 on July 19.

"We did just about everything wrong," coach Royce Duffy said. "It could've been a clinic on what not to do. A lot of what happens in baseball has to do with confidence."

But Post 144A then won four in a row -- over Don Gentile (Westland) Post 532W 19-6 on July 20, Columbus (Watterson) Post 82 12-6 on July 21, Gahanna Post 797 10-4 on July 22 and Hilliard (Davidson) Post 614A 13-8 on July 23 -- before being eliminated by Grove City Post 164A 16-9 on July 24.

It finished 19-22 overall after going 7-8 in District 12.

"I don't know what we found, but if I could put it into a bottle I'd be a millionaire," Duffy said. "I swear to you, I wasn't putting anything in their water jugs. We never had a winning streak longer than four or five games in the regular season, but we picked the right time to get on a roll."

"It was a real bummer to go out and lose the first tournament game like that," catcher Jake Duffy said. "But going out there and hanging 19 on our next opponent got the ball rolling. We were living the dream there for a few days."

Post 164A's Zach Snider, a Grove City Christian School junior and a former Post 144A player, helped end Post 144A's run. After a grand slam by Sean Thomas gave Post 144A a 5-0 lead, Snyder hit a grand slam of his own to tie the game at 5 in the first inning.

"I know he never hit one like that when he played with us," coach Duffy said. "He picked a fine time to hit the first home run I've ever seen him hit."

The tournament run might help Central Crossing next spring. The Comets finished 12-14 overall and were sixth in the OCC-Central Division at 1-9. Central Crossing started four sophomores and two freshmen in a 5-4 loss to 11th-seeded Westerville Central in the first round of the Division I district tournament,

Post 144A loses graduate Jake Duffy, Adam Taylor, a Muskingum College sophomore who was a pitcher and infielder, and Frankie Spradlin, a Columbus State sophomore who pitched and played first base.

Expected to return next summer are seniors Jared Weber (OF), Alex Duffy (utility) Cody McManaway (P/OF) and Nick Helwagen (P/1B), juniors Thomas (SS), Cameron Pilkington (utility) and Ben Rhinehart (P/OF) and sophomore Josh Warren (C/OF), all of whom attend Central Crossing. Also expected to play next summer are juniors John Chudzik (P/utility), Sean Kennedy (P/OF) and Nick Puhlick (INF), who attend Centennial.

"I loved every minute of coaching this team," said coach Duffy, who was assisted by Don Ballinger, John Lehr and Keith Chudzik. "We would've liked to have won a few more games, but we didn't have any huge problems this year.

"Those kids were students of the game. This summer they honed their baseball skills. That's what Legion ball is all about."