Pickerington American Legion Post 283 baseball coach Chris Weber will have a few anxious moments the day before the state tournament begins.

Pickerington American Legion Post 283 baseball coach Chris Weber will have a few anxious moments the day before the state tournament begins.

Weber hopes his District 8 champions come out of the Sunday, July 29, draw with a favorable spot in the bracket for the double-elimination state tournament, which is scheduled for Monday, July 30, through Aug. 3 at Beavers Field in Lancaster.

"It's kind of like the lottery," Weber said. "You pick up these small, 3x2 envelopes, come back to the table and open it up.

"It's a little nerve-racking. You're going, 'Gosh, I hope we get a good number.' But like so many things in baseball, you can't control it. You just grab an envelope and see what happens."

Post 283 will rely on its pitching and experience in the state tournament. Many of the team's players were there last year when Post 283 lost to Napoleon Post 300 8-7 in the final.

Mason McGrew (P/INF/ OF), a Pickerington High School North graduate who played for Ohio University-Lancaster this year, said Post 283's experience gives it an advantage.

"To win a tournament, you need pitching and a little bit of luck," he said. "We've had both this season, so I like our odds."

"It's a definite bonus to have kids who have been there a few times," Weber said. "They can mentor the younger guys through it. We're going to be 15 minutes from home, but the guys know this is a business trip."

Post 283 enters the state tournament at 45-3, topping last season's 42-5 finish that had been the program's best record. The team won three of its district games by run rule.

It defeated Athens Post 21 25-3 on July 15, Lancaster Post 11 13-3 on July 17 and Post 11 12-2 on July 18 to claim its fourth district title in five years.

In the final, left-hander Tony Winters had nine strikeouts and allowed one hit in five innings. Post 283 outhit Post 11 16-2 as Jacob Horsley (P/INF/OF) was 4-for-5 with an RBI and three runs.

McGrew was 2-for-4 with three runs and two RBI. Devon Fisk (P/INF/OF), Zach Beaver (P/INF/OF) and Evan Jensen (P/ C/INF) all went 2-for-5.

McGrew, who leads the team with nine home runs, said a 5-4 loss to Columbia (Md.) Post 300 on June 17 turned things around for Post 283. Two of the team's losses were to out-of-state teams, including a 6-4 loss to East Lansing (Mich.) Post 205 on July 3. The team's other loss was 4-3 to Portsmouth Post 23 on June 10.

"We're hitting the ball really well," McGrew said. "Ever since that June 17 loss, we've been pounding the ball."

McGrew said the district title and the team's impressive regular season mean nothing once the state tournament begins.

"Winning the district is huge, especially winning one back-to-back, but that is the first step for us," he said. "Our record may seem intimidating, but we're back to 0-0 for the state tournament."