ATHENS --The Grove City American Legion Post 164 baseball team has not had much luck this season. Despite the tough circumstances, like losing a star player to injury and playing the entire season without a home field, Post 164 has excelled.

ATHENS --The Grove City American Legion Post 164 baseball team has not had much luck this season. Despite the tough circumstances, like losing a star player to injury and playing the entire season without a home field, Post 164 has excelled.

But the string of bad breaks may have finally caught up with Grove City at the American Legion state tournament Monday.

Post 164 lost its opening round game 3-2 to Alliance Post 166, dropping into the losers bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

"We were just flat," said Grove City coach John Mott, whose team fell to 32-10. "It has to be the layoff."

Two weeks ago, Post 164 rolled through District 12 tournament with strong hitting, winning five games by an average of five runs, but the bats were noticeably silent in the opener.

Grove City mustered only five hits against Alliance, and left 10 runners on base.

"We didn't show any patience," Mott said. "The pitcher for Alliance wasn't an overpowering pitcher, and those are the guys you have wait on and you have recognize pitches."

Alliance's pitcher Kendrick Gooden pitched a complete game.

Robby Shane took the loss for Grove City, giving up three runs over six innings and striking out six.

Most of the damage came in the first inning when Shane struggled to find the strike zone. He loaded the bases, and Alliance's Lonnel Bush delivered a two-out, two-run single on an 0-2 pitch to give Post 166 an early lead.

"Robby pitched well. He pitched really well all the way through, he just made one mistake." Mott said.

"Difference in the ballgame, that was it."

After the first inning, Shane settled down and did not give up another run until the sixth, when Alliance capitalized on a two-out double to take a 3-2 lead.

Grove City had chances to score early but failed to take advantage. In the first two innings, Gooden escaped jams with inning-ending double plays.

"They got a little momentum after that, and it seemed like our bats kind of went quiet," Mott said.

One of the explanations for the hitting struggles is that Post 164 is without top player Tim Knezovich because of a hamstring injury.

Mott had initially hoped Knezovich, a first basemen-pitcher, would return in time for the state tournament, but the injury has lingered. Now, Mott only plans to use Knezovich as a pinch-hitter in an RBI situation.

"It's a huge loss," Mott said

"We can't play our leader, which means our defense isn't quite what it would normally be, and we miss his big bat in the middle of the lineup. He's an inspiration for us."

Alliance improved to 27-4 and is considered one of the top contenders for the title. It has a roster older than most teams, using just three players who are still in high school. All the other players have recently graduated or already completed one year in college.

Comparatively, 11 of the 18 players for Grove City are still in high school.

"Maybe we were a little bit nervous," Mott said.

The tournament schedule was determined by a blind draw at a banquet Sunday night. Four teams receive first-round byes, and Grove City did not earn one.

After dropping into the losers bracket, Grove City needed to win seven games in four days to capture to state title.

"It doesn't get any tougher," Mott said.

"This is the ultimate uphill challenge."