Moments after earning the District 12 title, the Worthington Post 239 American Legion baseball team quickly focused its attention on a bigger goal.
The celebration was quick.
Moments after earning the District 12 title, the Worthington Post 239 American Legion baseball team quickly focused its attention on a bigger goal. It earned a berth in the state tournament with a 9-5 win over Dublin (Coffman) Post 800C last Saturday at Thomas Worthington High School.
Post 239, which improved to 31-4, will begin state tournament play Monday in Athens in pursuit of the team's fifth state title and first since 1993. Post 239's other titles came in 1975, 1981 and 1983.
"Everybody wants to win at Athens," said assistant Eric Lindquist, who was filling in as coach Jim Townsend was on vacation. "We certainly would like a good showing. We like the fact that we rolled through our league this year. We had close ballgames, but we were clearly the best team."
The first-round pairings for the 12-team double-elimination tournament will be determined Sunday. Other teams in the tournament are Toledo Post 335 (District 1), Lima Post 96 (2), Troy Post 43 (3), Cincinnati Mount Caramel Post 72 (4), Sandusky Post 83 (5), Marysville Post 79 (6), Portsmouth Post 29 (7), Pickerington Post 283 (8), Strongsville Post 795 (9), Alliance Post 166 (10) and Zanesville Post 29 (11).
"We're going to have to get good pitching," Lindquist said. "We're going to see lots of teams. Every team is going to have a bunch of athletes and probably a lot of hitters. We'll also see better pitching than we've seen. We're going to see a lot of guys that are fresh and we're going to have to come out swinging."
Post 239 defeated Post 800C twice during the District 12 tournament, capped by its win last Saturday. Post 239 used the long ball to take a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Erik Petry led off with a home run, and after Frank Aledia walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Eric Erb, Kyle Harned hit a two-run home run to left.
Post 239 added a run in the fourth on Ryan Sparks' fielder's choice groundout before Post 800C rallied.
It scored twice in the fifth inning, highlighted by Bryan Vranic's two-run single, and tied the game in the seventh on Drew Karabinos' two-run home run to right-center.
Post 239 sealed the title and state berth after scoring five runs in the bottom of the inning. Kevin Reik had the big hit, a two-run home run to left-center. Erb added a two-run single.
Kyle Lindquist went the distance for Post 239 and gave up seven hits. He struck out nine and walked four.
"We wanted to start off by winning the district because I've never been to the state tournament," said Lindquist, who is heading to Marietta College to play baseball. "Obviously, when you go down there you don't want to go down there and go two and out. You want to try and represent our district. We've had a pretty good year, so we want to try and keep playing as long as we can."
Post 800C ace Neal Smith took the loss. He allowed 13 hits, struck out eight and walked two in a complete game.
"This is a great win," coach Lindquist said.
"They kids played great all week. They hit the ball really well. We made enough plays, we got pretty good pitching, but we just pounded the ball."
Entering the state tournament, Reik is batting .447, followed by Sparks (.421), Harned (379) and Chris Michalski (.372).
Sparks leads the team with three home runs and Nick Schaeffer has 31 RBI.
Jordan Peters headlines the pitching staff at 6-0 (3.29 ERA) followed by Lindquist (5-0, 1.92, 46 strikeouts), Petry (5-1, 5.34), Keegan Hazen (4-0, 4.15) and Chet Hakes (5-2, 3.28).
"There are going to be a lot of tough teams down there, but if we go down and stay hot we have a chance," Harned said.