Derrick Webb Published 3:38 p.m. ET July 24, 2017 Article Courtesy of the Chillicothe Gazette
CHILLICOTHE – After entering last week’s American Legion Region V Tournament at 14-18, it would’ve been easy for Chillicothe Post 757 to lay down, drop its first two ballgames and call it a summer.
In fact, the Colts would’ve had a closet full of excuses at their disposal to explain an early exit: multiple injuries, key player departures during the middle of the season, a brutal schedule, etc.
Instead, the players chose to fight and the result was a tournament run they won’t soon forget.
“We had injuries all year long and we had a few kids who left the team for their own reasons,” 757 coach Tom Barr said. “We usually go into the tournament with an 18-man roster. Instead, we ended up playing 56 innings over the course of three days with 13 kids. At the end, I told them that I was as proud of them as I had ever been of any group. It was a major gut check and what they did was impressive.”
With that group of 13, Post 757 finished as the Region V runner-up, second to Circleville Post 134. But it wasn’t the end result that was impressive, it was the Colts’ journey to get there.
Monday, they beat Hillsboro Post 129 by a 7-6 final before falling to No. 1 seeded Circleville 134, 9-4.
That loss ignited a fire.
“When we came into Tuesday, it was a sense of no nonsense,” Barr said. “The kids knew we could either roll over and die or come out swinging. Portsmouth (Post 23) comes out, jumps on us and takes an 8-2 lead. But in a back-and-forth game, we stepped up. We did that all week.”
The Colts eventually pounded out 21 hits against Portsmouth 23, squeaking out a 14-13 win.
Their reward was a date with Chillicothe Post 62 later that day, where they produced more magic.
After heading into the ninth inning trailing Post 62 9-5, 757 scored four runs in the ninth to tie it and nine more in the 10th to secure an 18-9 win, setting up a meeting with Waverly Post 142, Wednesday.
“I just kept telling the guys that it’s a marathon,” Barr said. “We had to go into every game knowing anything could happen. It doesn’t matter what the score is at any point if you’re still alive and kicking.”
Running low on arms, 757 pulled out a 6-4 win over 142 while starting Sam Walsh on the mound, a pitcher that spent most of his summer playing for 757’s junior team.
“We sent Sam out there and he did a great job for us,” Barr said. “That’s how everybody on our roster played. They knew their role and embraced it. Anything they could do to help, that’s what they did.”
The Colts eventually fell in their next contest, 16-6, to Circleville 134 in the championship game.
But considering 757’s initial chances at even advancing into the title game, Barr was more than happy with his team’s efforts.
“We could’ve lost our first two games and been done. And, the crazy part? Nobody would’ve been surprised,” he said. “We came back to win every game we won. We had kids throwing that we hadn’t thrown all summer. They knew it was their last opportunity to lay it all on the line and they stepped up.”
In total, the Colts’ offense hit a collective .339 during the tournament run, producing 55 runs. Outstanding individual performers included Walsh (.381, nine RBIs), Bo Dratwa (.481, seven RBIs), Brian Smith (.462, seven runs) and Trenton Harris (.419, nine runs).
While 757 will say goodbye to three 18-year-olds, including Harris and Smith, the future looks bright.
The senior team ends its season at 18-20, the junior team finished 28-11 and the 13U Colts were 18-6 – good for an overall program record of 64-37.
“It's an exciting time to be part of the Chillicothe 757 Colts baseball program and represent our community in a positive way,” Barr said. “We've already started scheduling games and tryouts for 2018, our 49th consecutive year in Chillicothe. We’re in great shape moving forward.”