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.”
CHILLICOTHE - The young grasshoppers have quickly become the teachers in Post 757's baseball program.
The quartet of Seth McGuire, Derek Milliken, Ryan Milliken and Drew Barr once suited up in Colts uniforms. Now, they're still suiting up in the blue and gold, but in a different way.
Each of the four plays a different role inside the local American Legion baseball organization. And, luckily for the current and future players, they seem to know exactly what they're doing.
"We knew that 757 meant so much to us and that’s one of the things we really wanted to do; give back," Derek Milliken said. "Every year, parents come to us and tell us we're doing a great job. That means a lot. At the end of the day, that’s what matters to us. We're building character and teaching our guys how to play the game the right way."
Derek has teamed up with McGuire to head up the Colts' junior team, ages 16 and under. Over the past two years, they've had their struggles, but they hope a turning point is near.
"I just love being around our team in general," McGuire said. "It’s not always just about baseball with us. We teach them how to play, but you've got to have life lessons around the baseball. That’s something that (longtime Chillicothe coach) Marty (Dunn) preached to us. Baseball is a lot like the game of life. There's not another sport where three out of 10 times, you're successful and you're a good player. Play hard and do things the right way. If they do that, we can't complain about much.”
Derek Milliken and McGuire attend Ohio State and have roomed together over the past two years. Derek is a sports industry major, while McGuire is pursuing a degree in integrated social studies. Derek played in the 757 organization from 2010-13 after graduating from Chillicothe High School. McGuire paid his service from 2009-12 after graduating from CHS.
"Seth and I get along great," Derek said. "We've been friends since second grade and have been playing baseball together ever since. Off the field, I’ve lived with him over the past couple of years at Ohio State. We’re buddies and we love each other. It’s always a good time. We’re always able to relate.”
While the Colts' junior team is reaping the benefits of the pair's decision to coach, the Colts' senior team — ages 19 and under — has also gained a pair of valuable baseball presences.
Derek's younger brother Ryan, 20, and 757 head coach Tom Barr's son Drew, 19, recently joined the coaching staff as well. Ryan is acting as an assistant coach, while Drew takes care of the game-by-game statistics.
Ryan, a 2014 graduate of CHS, is a junior at Ohio State and is majoring in sports industry while Barr, a 2015 graduate of Zane Trace High School, attends OU-C and plays baseball under former 757 coach Bret Mavis.
The things they've learned from watching Barr in the dugout have already paid dividends.
"I want to coach high school ball after I graduate college," Ryan said. "I've learned a lot from just watching Tom. Little tricks to coaching at the high school level, at least I hope so. Things that I can do at both the legion and high school level. I learned just how different the coaching side of things is from playing. You're still watching the same game, but you're watching it in a completely different sense. It’s a lot more mental now. ”
But one of the biggest lessons all three now have experience in is the art of patience; a tool that doesn't come without wisdom.
"I've learned a lot of patience dealing with my kids," McGuire said. "You kind of expect to come into a season and everything goes exactly your way and that’s not the case. You deal with adversity between injuries and kids being on vacation and then it's also getting these kids to buy into what you're saying. It's giving them that extra little push to help them get better and then waiting on the results."
As the lessons continue to be taught, the young quartet of former baseball players will continue to transform their baseball minds, all in a positive way. That, they hope, will produce a correlation with team success.
Either way, 757's future seems to be bright.
"You're thinking about how you can help all of these guys do their best to help the team win," Ryan said. "It’s learning to deal with different personalities and trying to get them to come together. As we keep learning, I believe the team and the organization can only get better. If we do our job, our players do their job. And that is a recipe for success."
CHILLICOTHE - Both Chillicothe Post 757's Jacob Chester and Chillicothe Post 62's Tanner Popp dealt gems Sunday morning in the first round of the American Legion Region V Tournament at VA Memorial Stadium.
And, thanks to their offenses, both picked up wins on the mound to help their teams advance further into the winners' bracket.
Behind Chester, the Colts (13-19) topped Hillsboro 129 by a 12-1 final in seven innings as the Riverbats (12-10), behind Popp, beat Portsmouth 23 by a 7-1 count.
In the early contest, 757 put up a run in the bottom of the first inning after Chester struck out the side. That set the tone for the rest of the day's action.
"Jacob was solid all day and he worked ahead all day," 757 coach Tom Barr said. "He had a couple of games where he got roughed up pretty good, especially on our Carolina trip. But he's been a solid starter for us for three years now. He knows how to get better and he's gotten better every outing. Not many teams are going to hit the ball against him when he works like he did today. He was zoned in and that's what we expect."
Brian Smith came around to score the game's first run on a Hillsboro fielding error, making it 1-0. In the second, Trenton Harris tripled and scored on a passed ball before Smith reached third, after walking, and stole home to give the Colts a 3-0 edge.
Hillsboro (13-25) went 1-2-3 in the top of the third, making way for 757 to tack on four more, making it 7-0 thanks to a passed ball, a two-run double from Harris and an RBI triple from Hayden Henness.
In the fifth, the Colts scored two more on a two-run single from Eli Kunkel before scoring three in the sixth on a bases-loaded walk, a sacrifice fly and an RBI fielder's choice. Post 129 scored its only run — unearned — in the top of the inning.
"We had 12 hits and 12 runs today. What it really came down to was timely hitting," Barr said. "We want to go out and string some things together. That's what we were able to do. It's a game changer and we saw that today."
Chester threw all seven frames, allowing three hits and striking out nine in 93 pitches. Harris led the Colts' offense, finishing 3-for-4 with a double, triple, three runs and two RBIs. Smith followed by going 1-for-2 with three runs and an RBI while Kunkel finished 2-for-4 with a pair of runs batted in.
After 757 exited its dugout, the Riverbats took to theirs and quickly found out Popp was taking no prisoners.
The right-hander out of Southeastern High School continued to mow down Portsmouth's lineup, allowing his team to figure out how to put runs on the board. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth, 62's offense finally broke through.
Gage Jones started the party with a one-out double before scoring on a fielder's choice to force a tie. After right fielder Jeremy Brooks nailed a runner trying to score at home plate to end the top of the fifth, 62 took a lead and kept it.
Russell Throckmorton doubled with one out, making way for Brooks to single up the gut. With runners on the corners and one out, Jones tripled to deep center field, giving the Riverbats a 3-1 advantage. Jones then scored on an RBI single from Owen Diehl, stretching the lead to 4-1.
In the seventh, Jones drove in Popp to make it 5-1 before both Josh McCorkle and Izak Diehl crossed home plate in the eighth to produce the game's final tally.
Popp got the victory in six innings of work. He allowed five hits and did not surrender an earned run. Josh George threw three innings of relief, allowing two hits.
At the dish, Jones was 2-for-5 with a double, triple, two runs and three RBIs. Popp finished 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI while Throckmorton was 1-for-4 with a double and a run.
The Riverbats will now face Waverly 142 at 9 a.m. Monday as the Colts take on top-seeded Circleville 134 at 3 p.m. Both games will be played at VA Memorial Stadium in the championship quarterfinals portion of the winners' bracket.
The Gazette will have live coverage, Monday, of the American Legion Region V Tournament at VA Memorial Stadium. Follow @dw1509 on Twitter for updates throughout the event and visit chillicothegazette.com for full details.
Article courtesy of the Chillicothe Gazette
Brock Netter 7:22 p.m. EDT June 8, 2016
CHILLICOTHE - The time had come to light up Joseph W. Hoffman Field.
After 46 years of hosting day game after day game, the Chillicothe Post 757 Colts can now begin to host night games after finalizing and installing six new light towers Thursday afternoon.
The 757 committee spearheaded by General Manager Art DeVore and Don Rockhold, along with 757 coach Tom Barr, Steve Neal, Ron Shoemaker, Bob Puffer, Fred Yengling, Roy Stone, Larry Gates and John Herrnstein, raised more than the $150,000 needed to put the plan into action.
“This is an exciting time to be a part of the Chillicothe Post 757 Colts,” Post 757 coach Tom Barr said. “I’m honored to be a part of this, and I get goose bumps thinking about some of the guys that are looking down with huge smiles on their faces. Guys like Jim Jadwin, Leo Woods, Dick Stewart and countless others who gave so much of their time to the youth of our community.”
DeVore, who has been with the Legion ball club since the day the field opened, couldn’t be more pleased with the lights.
“They are absolutely beautiful,” DeVore said. “Many people told me that we could never raise that type of money, but it didn’t matter. We reached out to people we thought would be willing to help or donate, and I didn’t have one person turn me down. This isn’t a field just for 757; this is a field for the community and our athletes. Back in 1970, Jim Jadwin and I put the first fence post down, and he said: ‘This would be a great place for a baseball field if we can get some lights.’ And 46 years later, we finally got them. We were all really happy and it’s such a wonderful sight to see.”
Rockhold, who has been with the club as a coach and dedicated member since 1971, understands the importance of the lights for those with baseball aspirations.
“A lot of people were amazed by the lights,” he said. “We kept the lights on for about an hour, and a lot of people came out just to see them. That couldn’t believe it. I grew up playing Legion ball in West Virginia, and I was fortunate to have lights and play 7-8 games a week back then. If you want to play college ball and in the major leagues, you have to learn how to play under the lights, and this is a great step in the right direction for us. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”
With the lights have officially been installed, Chillicothe now has three full-size baseball diamonds with light towers, along with VA Memorial Stadium and Balmer Field in the Yoctangee Park. Located in the southeast corner of Mary Lou Patton Park, within Chillicothe city limits, the committee believes the city and community can only benefit from the lights.
In a letter written by Herrnstein and Gates, they elaborated on how the lights will benefit the city and the influence DeVore and Rockhold have had on the Legion team over the years.
“Since the baseball is located on city property, the city and community will accrue the following: A $150,000 improvement to its recreation infrastructure, an additional source of pride on the east side of town, plus a projected two million dollar annual economic impact from planned baseball and softball tournaments. Even more importantly, another lighted field translates into substantially more scholarship opportunities for our surrounding area’s high school athletes; both male and female, which has always been our committee’s highest priority. Approximately 100 local athletes have earned baseball scholarships in the past and have gone on to play at the college level, with an impressive number of those players advancing in the professional ranks.”
DeVore and Rockhold have spent nearly 100 year combined volunteering with the youth of Ross County.
The Colts will play their first game under the lights next Saturday as part of a doubleheader against Portsmouth. The first game will start at 5 p.m., followed by a ceremony at 7:30 p.m., and then the night game with cap the night off.
“You can’t help but to be excited for Art,” Barr said. “He’s been the driving force behind Phase I of the Hoffman Restoration Project. We’ll now move on to Phase II, III and IV, but it will be very special for our kids and community when we finally light up Hoffman Field.”