LANCASTER -- The Pickerington Post 283 baseball team fought to the bitter end against what many considered the best team in the double-elimination American Legion state tournament.

LANCASTER -- The Pickerington Post 283 baseball team fought to the bitter end against what many considered the best team in the double-elimination American Legion state tournament.

Napoleon Post 300 threw the potential tying run out at the plate in the ninth inning and then induced a game-ending, bases-loaded groundout to win the title 8-7 on July 29 at OU-Lancaster's Beaver Field.

"We're obviously in pain right now, but truthfully, who would've expected us to be in the Game 2 championship this morning after they beat us 15-2 two days ago," Post 283 coach Chris Weber said. "We rebounded from that game to win four in a row, including beating them 8-6 (July 28).

"They made the plays they had to make, but I'm so proud of our guys. We battled back all game and all tournament when things were on the line. We just didn't quite pull this one out. You've got to tip your cap to Napoleon, but I think we made Post 283 and our communities proud."

With Pickerington trailing 8-6 entering the top of the ninth, Kyle Chontos led off with a double and Matt Connor hit a one-out single to put runners on the corners. With Tony Winters pinch-running for Connor, Alex Green reached on an error that scored Chontos to make it 8-7.

Shane Snyder then singled to right field and Napoleon executed a cutoff throw to cut down Winters at the plate.

"I'll be up for nights thinking about that one," Weber said. "It took two perfect throws to get Tony and Napoleon did that. Plus, their catcher (Thomas Losby) did a great job blocking off the plate."

The drama wasn't over as Kyle Smith was hit by a pitch to load the bases for leadoff-hitter Isac Franklin, who totaled 14 hits in Pickerington's last four games, including four hits in each of the previous two contests.

However, Trevor Blaylock enticed Franklin to hit a 2-1 pitch to shortstop and Napoleon got the force out at second base to end the game.

Pickerington, which finished 42-5, trailed 6-3 entering the eighth and used a double by Green, single by Franklin, two errors and a wild pitch to tie the game. But Napoleon got two runs back in the bottom of the eighth on a walk, and RBI double by Losby and a sacrifice fly.

Joe Matalon had a solo home run in the first for Pickerington, but Arthur Warren had a two-run homer in the third to give Napoleon a 2-1 lead. D.J. Collins tied it in the fifth with a sacrifice fly, but Post 300 got a three-run double from Levi Fisher in the bottom of the fifth and a solo homer in the sixth from Losby to make it 6-2. Smith singled and scored on Franklin's fielder's choice in the seventh to make it 6-3.

Napoleon, which averaged 17 runs per game in the tournament until being limited to six and eight in the championship games by Pickerington, improved to 47-9 and advanced to the Midwest Regional.