LANCASTER, Ohio — Proving worthy of their seed.
The Meigs Post 39 baseball team find itself in the proverbial cat-bird seat after securing a place in the championship final on Sunday following a climactic 8-7 victory over Lancaster Post 11 in the winner’s bracket final of the American Legion District 8 Tournament held at Beavers Field in Fairfield County.
The top-seeded Rangers (14-4) made quick work of McArthur Post 303 on Saturday following a 10-0 decision in the tournament opener, but the hosts needed every drop of seven innings to reach the championship round after scoring four times in the bottom of the seventh to wrap up the one-run triumph.
Trailing 7-4 headed into their final at-bat of regulation, Post 39 needed only seven batters to complete the improbable comeback — using three hits, two walks and one big error to rally its way into Monday night’s championship contest.
Cole Arnott started the rally with a leadoff double, then advanced to third and also scored on a pair of passed balls — cutting the deficit down to two.
With one away, Billy Harmon drew a walk and advanced to second on a single by Carter Smith. Briar Wolfe followed by reaching on an error that allowed Harmon to come home as Smith advanced to third — putting runners on the corners in a one-run contest.
Cleanup hitter Brody Jeffers received a walk to load the bases, then Cooper Peters provided the heroics with a single to left that allowed both Smith and Wolfe to come home with the game-tying and game-clinching scores.
With the victory, the Rangers now await the winner of the loser’s bracket final between Lancaster Post 11 and Utica Post 92 — which will be played at 5:30 p.m. Monday night at Beavers Field.
Post 39 is scheduled to hit the field at 7:30 p.m. Monday night for the championship game. If the Rangers lose, they will play again at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a one-game, winner-take-all matchup against Monday night’s opponent.
Meigs Post 39 led 2-1 through two innings of play, but the guests rallied by scoring the next four runs over a three-inning span en route to a 5-2 advantage.
Post 11 took the first lead in the top of the second as Nathan Pechar singled in Lane Kastely for a 1-0 edge.
Post 39 responded in its half of the second as Arnott singled home both Mason Hanning and Wes Smith with two away, giving the hosts a 2-1 lead after two complete.
Lancaster Post 11 retired 10 straight from that point and recaptured the lead in the top of the third as two hits, two errors and a sacrifice fly resulted in a 4-2 contest.
Post 11 added another run in the fifth on a Kastely two-out single that plated Fyffe for a 5-2 cushion.
The Rangers closed the gap down to a single run in the bottom of the sixth after scoring twice as Ben Wolfe singled home Harmon, then Wolfe came around on a Jeffers double with one away.
Lancaster Post 11, however, tacked on two runs in the top of the seventh while again establishing a three-run edge.
Fyffe singled home Trey Henry with two away, then Fyffe eventually scored on a Kastely single that made it 7-4 entering the home half of the seventh.
Lancaster Post 11 outhit the hosts by a 10-9 overall margin, with both teams committing two errors apiece. The guests stranded six runners on base, while the Rangers left only three on the bags.
Wes Smith ended up being the winning pitcher of record after recording a single putout in less than an inning of perfect relief. Zane Mirgon took the loss after surrendering eight runs (five earned), eight hits and three walks over 6.1 frames while fanning six.
Harmon and Arnott paced the hosts with two hits apiece, followed by Jeffers, Peters, Wes Smith, Carter Smith and Ben Wolfe with a safety apiece. Peters and Arnott also accounted for a team-high two RBIs apiece.
Kastely led Post 11 with three hits and drove in two runs. Fyffe and Pechar also had two hits apiece in the setback.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.