Pioneer baseball fans have been getting a good look this summer at what will be the core of Warren County High School’s team this coming school year with American Legion Post 173 baseball.
Post 173 has competed in around 25 games this summer, according to coaches, and the team is probably a few games below .500, but it has been competitive throughout.
Monday night was a shining example of the team’s grit. Playing a doubleheader against Gallatin at WCHS, Post 173 earned an 8-7 win in the nightcap after suffering a tough 8-4 loss in the opener.
Four pitchers took the mound for Warren County in the opener – Eli Kuykendall, Brett Cantrell, Alex Tallent and Aiden Miller. The team was solidified on defense by catcher Will Vance and 1B Logan Earls.
Post 173 lefthander J.J. Jacobs got the start in the nightcap and worked his way out of a tough jam in the first without allowing a run. In the bottom of the second, Post 173 exploded for seven runs while sending 11 batters to the plate in what proved to be the decisive inning.
In the opener, Warren County was down 4-1 early and used small ball to cut into the lead. Kyle Johnson laid down a perfect bunt between the pitcher and catcher for a lead-off single in the bottom of the fifth. He stole second and then scored when Layne Roberts ripped a single to left, 4-2.
Warren County showed flashes of dazzling defense. Alex Tallent snagged a rocket shot back to the mound for an out and Baler Melton grabbed a hard liner to 3B to end an inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Warren County tied it, 4-4, when Melton started the inning with a single to shallow right. Curtlan George got hit by a pitch and Aiden Miller beat out an infield grounder to load the bases.
Will Vance drove in a run with an infield single and another run scored on a wild pitch to knot the game.
Two fielding errors spelled doom for Post 173 in the top of the seventh and proved to be the difference. The errors, combined with two hard hits, allowed Gallatin to take an 8-4 lead.
One of the great plays of the game came when Gallatin tried to bunt with runners on 2B and 3B. Melton, playing 3B, charged in when he saw the batter turning to bunt, but the ball was popped into the air off the bat.
Melton laid out and made a diving effort to catch the ball sailing over his head but it landed in the grass near 3B. The Gallatin runner had to hold momentarily not knowing if the ball would be caught, then he broke to the plate when he saw the ball hit the ground.
Melton was able to retrieve the ball and make a strong throw to catcher Will Vance, who applied the tag for an out at the plate.
Down by 4 runs entering its last bat, Post 173 looked to rally but got picked off 1B after a lead-off single. Coach Phillip King immediately turned to his team in the dugout and stressed the importance of baseball awareness. King said it made no sense to get picked off 1B in a situation where the team needs 4 runs to tie the game.