After his team went 0-3 in the Diamond Stars Classic at Kent State on June 16-19, coach Adam Arcuri believed the Licking County Athletics were emerging from their slump as they entered play in the 40-team Worthington/Phoenix Wood Bat Tournament on June 23.

After his team went 0-3 in the Diamond Stars Classic at Kent State on June 16-19, coach Adam Arcuri believed the Licking County Athletics were emerging from their slump as they entered play in the 40-team Worthington/Phoenix Wood Bat Tournament on June 23.

The Athletics lost to host Pickerington Post 283 9-6 on June 22 to fall to 3-8-1 after a 2-0 start, but Arcuri said he had started to notice changes within his team.

"We realize we can compete and we want our record to reflect the caliber of play we're capable of playing," he said. "We've been going through a bit of a rough stretch and not playing to our ability, but I think we're starting to turn the corner. The kids are starting to find and accept their roles."

Against Post 283, the A's had a rough start before battling back. Post 283, which improved to 20-1, scored three runs in the first inning off Hunter Cecil as the A's dropped a fly ball and had two passed balls.

Nate Hunt's single scored Derek Yahn to make it 3-1 in the second, but Post 283 played small-ball in the fourth to make it 7-1. Post 283 scored on a suicide squeeze, sacrifice fly and RBI single and was aided by two walks and two errors by the A's.

Cecil and Josh Hoar limited Post 283, which was averaging 13.1 runs per game, to five hits and two earned runs. But they combined to walk five and the A's made three errors.

"Our pitchers are learning to hit spots. They're not going to blow away many hitters at this level," Arcuri said. "They have to work the count, get ahead of the hitters and we've got to play good defense behind them. We have to throw strikes and we're getting there.

"Cole Benner has been strong on offense and Derek Yahn is starting to swing the bat well. Brandon Mallett has done a nice job on the mound."

The Athletics scored five times in the sixth - against a team that had allowed a season-high six runs in two games this season. Post 283 was allowing only 2.7 runs per game.

The Athletics' rally was highlighted by Steve Huber's RBI single, Benner's RBI double, Jeremy Jenkins' two-run single and Hunter Gray's sacrifice fly.

Benner was 3-for-4 with a double and two stolen bases, Jenkins was 2-for-4 with two RBI and Yahn scored two runs.

"We're still learning to play together, but I think we're starting to play better now," Yahn said. "We don't have a great record, but we're starting to hit better and we're making fewer errors on defense. We're also playing some real good teams, like Pickerington and the teams we played at Kent State."

The A's went a new direction this season, opting to be an 18-and-under travel team and not compete in American Legion or Babe Ruth.

"We're playing some great competition and seeing very good pitching and disciplined hitting," Arcuri said. "We decided to go this route so the younger guys could play against older competition and use it as a gauge as to where they need to be if they plan to play in college.

"It's an eye-opener for our kids, but they're starting to adjust. We just need that one big victory to spark us. We'll get it and ride it. I'm proud of the way we came ready, prepared and the way we were willing to fight back. But we've got to use this to turn these types of games into victories."