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JASPER - Rockport American Legion Post 254 Coach Jim Haaff has plenty to smile about after winning his 33rd sectional title. Rockport won all three sectional games at Jasper and were crowned champions Sunday.
Post 254 started out full throttle Thursday playing Jasper. Logan Mohr took the mound and at that point had a 5-0 season pitching record. Mohr allowed two hits and struck out nine batters in seven innings.
"We jumped out early on them," said Haaff. "We hit the ball and they didn't play well defensively. They are a good team, but they probably had one of their worst defensive outings of the tournament in the first game."
Rockport went up 8-0 in the bottom of the third. Ty Simpson got things started off with a stand-up double. Rolando Lopez walked to first base. Zeke Harmon bunted safely to first, but Simpson was called out at third.
With two runners on, VanWinkle tripled to right field, bringing in the first two runs of the game. Jarod Daming, Matt Price, Simpson and Harmon each collected an RBI, while Tate Glasscock drove in two runs.
Glasscock doubled in the fourth, bringing in another Rockport run.
Jasper took advantage of a couple of throwing errors committed by Rockport in the top of the fifth. They also got their first base knock of the game with a double to center field, while posting their only two runs of the game. Price would double to center field to end the game as he drove in two runs to bring the final score to 12-2.
Rockport squared off against Boonville in game two of the tournament Friday. "They came ready to play," said Haaff. "It seems like each time we play them, they get an early lead and then we come back and get them."
Neal Kunkler took the mound against Boonville and got off to a rocky start. With a 1-0 lead, Boonville collected a walk, double and a single that yielded two runs.
"With Neal pitching, we just needed some adjustments," Haaff said. "It was just too many fastballs, so we mixed in some breaking stuff. Then we did fine."
Rockport came into the top of the fifth inning down 4-1. Post 254 added one run when Price scored on a passed ball to make the score 4-2. With two outs and two runners on base, Daming slammed a three-run shot that gave Rockport the lead.
In the top of the sixth, Rockport put up five more runs off of some solid sticks. Ryan Zuelly started things off with a double down the third baseline. Price added a double knocking in Zuelly.
Later in the inning with the bases loaded, Harmon hit a single to right field to bring in another run.
VanWinkle drove in the next run, but was called out at first base. Daming reached first on an error and then took second due to another throwing error that scored two runs. By the end of the inning, Rockport had taken a 10-4 lead over Boonville.
Hurst sent a single shot over the fence in the top of the ninth and Rockport topped Boonville 12-6. Kunkler rebounded from a rough start to strike out nine batters. Rockport collected 13 total hits. Boonville committed seven errors in the contest.
Ty Simpson took the mound for Rockport during the championship matchup against Jasper.
"Both teams played hard," said Haaff. "They wouldn't go away. Their center fielder and third baseman took away four or five balls from us that could have been runs."
Rockport took the early lead off of a run driven in by Daming, but Jasper came right back in the top of the third with two runs of their own. The slugger sent a towering blast over the left-field wall, bringing Rockport back in the lead 4-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Price cranked his second home run of the game, a single shot. "Matt had a nice day at bat," said Haaff.
In the top of the sixth, Jasper tied things up 5-5. In the bottom of the sixth, it was Rockport's turn. Hurst brought in a run off of a double that hit the left-field fence, then Zuelly knocked in a run off of another double to bring the score to 7-5.
Jasper came within one run of Rockport 8-7 in the top of the eighth inning. Glasscock's single to left field, that drove in two runs in the bottom of the eighth, sealed the deal for Rockport as they came away with the 10-7 victory. "When they came back, each time we were able to score, that was the difference," said Haaff.
While Haaff said his 33rd sectional title is a "nice thing to be able to accomplish," his eyes are set on state. "Each year you have different kids, but the goal is to go to state." Rockport will advance to the regional tournament Friday at Gil Hodges Field in Princeton.
Terre Haute and Seymour will play the first game, with Rockport (25-2) set to take on the Evansville Pate squad at 7:30 p.m. CDT.