It didn't take long for the Hilliard (Darby) American Legion Post 614C baseball team to figure out its downfall in the District 12 tournament.

It didn't take long for the Hilliard (Darby) American Legion Post 614C baseball team to figure out its downfall in the District 12 tournament.

Last Monday's 7-2 loss to Northwest (Upper Arlington) Post 443 only magnified the troubles at the plate which ended the season at 17-11 overall.

"In the past when the pitching and defense weren't perfect, we could usually make up for it at the plate, but that wasn't the case this summer," shortstop Justin Chumita said. "We just didn't have the offense that we had last summer or this spring. This offseason, we just really need to work on our hitting."

In July, Post 614C went 6-6 after opening with a six-game winning streak and a mark of 11-5 in June. The team clinched its second consecutive Fourth of July Slugfest tournament hosted by Post 443 on June 29 with four victories.

Runs were hard to come by after that.

"That was the big thing," coach Brett Maniaci said. "If there was any time we got down in a game, it just seemed like we couldn't come back. The big thing that hurt us is we couldn't get the bit hit with two outs and runners in scoring position."

Post 443 last Monday held a 3-0 lead until Ty Welch tripled in the seventh inning and Alec Orr drove him home with a sacrifice fly.

Post 614C was able to cut the lead to one in the eighth when Jon Long hit a triple and scored on a throwing error, but Post 443 added four runs in the ninth.

Hilliard finished the game with 13 strikeouts.

The tournament opened with a 6-3 loss to Columbus (Watterson) Post 82 last Saturday before last Sunday's 18-8 victory over Camp Chase (West) Post 98 in eight innings.

Post 614C held the lead through six innings against Post 82.

At the plate, Hilliard batted .289 as a team with Chumita leading the way (.391, 4 doubles) followed by Sean Hayes (.387, 2 doubles), Mitch Baer (.357, 5 doubles, 3 triples), Ryan Stauffer (.333, 9 doubles, 1 home run) and Alec Orr (.302, 2 doubles, 1 home run).

Andrew Allen topped the statistics on the mound with a 1.57 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. He went 2-1, with seniors Jon Long (3-3, 4.16 ERA) and Matt Frey (4-2, 2.88 ERA) accounting for the most victories.

"I think Andrew Allen is definitely going to see a lot more playing time next season," Maniaci said. "He was a left-fielder, too, so, hopefully, he'll see some playing time out there. I think we found out pretty quick who can judge fly balls out there."

As many as four players will be vying for two spots in the outfield next spring.

Darby coach Chris Fugitt stresses the importance of the summer season.

A year ago, Post 614C finished at 16-13 overall, and the Panthers won their second consecutive Division I district championship and OCC-Ohio Division title at 25-6 overall.

Fugitt doesn't allow graduates on the roster, to help bring together next season's team.

"That's why we do this so we can get our team chemistry down," Chumita said. "Last season, we had a similar record and we worked hard in the offseason. We get into a cycle and that's how it works here. We'll be ready to go next spring."