The combination of one familiar obstacle with another that wasn't so familiar ultimately kept the Grove City American Legion Post 164A baseball team from the District 12 championship for the third consecutive season.
Grove City lost to Dublin (Coffman) Post 800C 14-11 on July 22 in a winners bracket semifinal before bouncing back to beat Dublin (Scioto) Post 800S 8-2 on July 23 and Southway (Central Crossing) Post 144A 16-9 on July 24 to set up a rematch with Post 800C in a semifinal last Friday.
A 13-8 loss in that matchup ended Post 164A's season, as Worthington Post 239 beat Post 800C 9-5 in the final last Saturday.
Grove City also lost to Coffman 8-4 in a losers bracket semifinal last year and lost to Post 800C 8-1 on July 2 for one of its six regular-season losses.
What was more disturbing to coach John Mott was that his team uncharacteristically committed several errors in both tournament losses.
"We were a little disappointed in our defense, which is what we hung our hats on all season," Mott said. "If we'd have just played normal defense we could have beaten 800C, but we just didn't play up to our potential. When we score 11 runs, we expect to win.
"The final score of the first game was 14-11 and the second one was 13-8, and in both cases we just made a lot of physical errors. We beat Worthington this year. We gave them their only league loss. We felt like we could play with them but we just couldn't beat Dublin."
Grove City, which won its first 13 games and was 14-2 in District 12 in the regular season, finished 29-8 overall. Last season, Post 164A went 28-14 overall and 11-4 in the league.
Among Post 164A's roster were nine players with ties to Grove City High School and six from other schools.
Heading into the season, one of Mott's biggest concerns was with his team's offense, but that proved to be solid by season's end.
"I thought we had a good season overall," said Grove City graduate Kirby Ayers, who started in center field for the second season in a row and hopes to walk on at Wright State. "Our record was pretty good and we started out by winning our first (13). We had a lot of young guys and a lot of new guys that we hadn't played with before. We started out hitting better than we thought we would so we concentrated all season on pitching and defense. Overall I thought we did pretty well."
Mott is the bench coach at Ohio Wesleyan, and 2008 Briggs graduate Tim Knezovich -- who will play for Mott on the Bishops -- was among Grove City's top players.
Eric Livingston, a 2007 Delaware graduate who also plays for Ohio Wesleyan, was the team's top pitcher.
John Kratz, a 2008 Grove City graduate, and John Owen, a Grove City senior, were other key pitchers.
Also on the roster from Grove City were juniors Joe Ford (SS), Zach Maynard (OF) and Ryan Mullins (C/DH), seniors Brian Senesac and Derrick Terry (OF) and 2008 graduate Dusty Wymer (C).
Rounding out the team were Franklin Heights senior Jeremy Britton (2B), Grove City Christian junior Zach Snider (1B) and Central Crossing juniors Francesco Perez and Chris Siders (C).
"They were a great group of guys," Mott said. "All the coaches enjoyed the season a lot. The consensus among the coaches was that except for the district championship teams (in 2004 and '05), this might have been one of our favorites.
"We hit the ball well for the most part and we hit the long ball. We did well with situational hitting for the most part. Our pitching was really solid."