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ROCKPORT – Rockport Post 254 followed a different script Thursday night than shown in previous games but still came away with the same result, a 9-5 win over Owensboro, Ky., Post No. 9 in American Legion baseball.
That’s now four straight wins for the Rockport post.
In Post 254’s last three wins, they jumped to and maintained early leads. But against Owensboro, Rockport fell behind after taking a 1-0 lead and trailed 5-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning.
But Post 254 gritted out some small-ball, fueled by some late-in-ning timely hitting and aggressive base running that allowed them to close the gap and settle in for the victory.
According to Rockport Coach Jim Haaff, it was “one of those grinder-type games” where his team faced a very good opposing pitcher and he just hoped they could do enough to get into the Owensboro bullpen.
And that’s just what happened.
Haaf said his players showed good plate discipline, were able to see a lot of pitches, made good decisions on the base paths and “learned a lot as the game went on.”
Nathan Kuester led off the eighth inning with a perfectly plac-ed drag-bunt single down the third-base line to get the rally started.
Jared Lauer followed by reaching base after he was hit by a pitch and Dayne Seibert, attempting to bunt the runners into scoring position, was walked on four pitches to load the bases.
Tyler Schneider knotted up the game after he lofted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Kuester with the tying run. Lauer crossed home with the go-ahead run when the Owensboro catcher, who was at-tempting to gun down Lauer as he advanced to third on the play, threw the ball into left field.
Seibert, who had moved all the way to third on the play, later scored on a passed ball to lift Rockport to a 7-5 advantage.
After Charleston Roberts and Ryan Duvall delivered two-out singles, Malin Webb produced an RBI single to center to score Roberts. Duvall moved up to third on the throw to the plate and scored on a catcher overthrow when the Owensboro backstop tried to prevent Webb from advancing to second.
Kolton Keown (1-0) worked four innings of relief to pick up the win for Rockport. Keown allowed one run on one hit with three strikeouts and three walks. Starter Jacob Brown worked the first five innings, allowing four hits and two runs and struck out five to go along with four walks and two hit batters.
Haaff commended his pitchers’ efforts. He said Brown’s ability to gut-out a strong performance on the mound despite the heat was a tremendous boost to the team. Haaf added that Keown provided a different arm angle that helped keep Owensboro batters off balance and “was able to throw strikes when we needed him to.”
All 10 Post No. 254 position players who appeared in the game hit safely. Kuester and Lauer led the way, each with two hits and two runs scored. Schneider had two runs batted in for Rockport.
Post 254 hoped to continue their winning ways Friday in a contest at Heritage Hills High School against the North Spencer Hoosier Express.