Post 118 falls just short; finishes second at districts
For the second year in a row, the Post 118 American Legion baseball team made it to the District 15 championship game and finished second.
Cassville took on Carthage in the final game of the double elimination tournament, but the Merchants finished them off 18-6 in eight innings. In 2007, the team fell to Neosho 15-4 in the championship game.
Sixth-seeded Cassville was the talk of the tournament. After knocking off third-seeded Webb City 15-2 in the first round, Post 118 upset second-seeded Carl Junction 13-8.
Post 118 had a 9-3 lead against CJ when they responded with five runs in the eighth, leaving Cassville with only a one-run lead. Cassville responded in the very next frame. Travis Northern belted a three-run, pinch-hit home run, and Jody Cavness had a run-scoring double to return Post 118 to a comfortable lead.
After his home run, Northern finished the night by retiring Carl Junction in the ninth inning for a save. Michael Baker was credited with the win.
Carthage, another underdog team, was Cassville's next opponent. The Merchants were fresh off an upset victory over Neosho, defending champions and the number one seed.
The Merchants' quick start ultimately doomed Cassville. Carthage scored six runs in the first, one run in the second, two runs in the fourth and one run in the fifth inning to give them a 10-0 lead before Cassville got on the scoreboard.
Post 118 cut the lead in half in the seventh. After making the score 10-2 in the prior frame, Ricky Vanderpool and Cody Pierson's back-to-back singles helped set up Kason Koelsch's three-run home run, which narrowed Carthage's lead to 10-5.
Carthage responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning and took the game 13-6.
On the heels of the loss to Carthage, Cassville returned to play and knocked off its nemesis, Neosho, 5-4.
Cassville had to come from behind to pick up the victory. Trailing 4-1 with only six more outs to go, Post 118 rallied.
Jake Nolan and Baker got on base to begin the inning after Neosho errors. Northern then came up with his second big hit of the tournament with a pinch hit double that scored one to cut the lead to 4-2. A fielder's choice gave the Nighthawks one out with a chance for a double play to end it, but Cody Pierson's double tied the game and he went on to score the winning run on an error.
Kelby Haynes picked up the victory on the mound, going all nine innings and striking out 12.
This set Cassville up with the chance to play for the championship against Carthage (Note: Cassville would have had to beat Carthage twice to win the tournament due to the double elimination format).
The game was close early. Carthage took a 3-1 lead in the second, but Cassville tied it back in the third.
With two outs, Cavness reached on an error and Baker drove him in with a two-run home run on a 1-0 pitch.
Carthage got the lead back in the fourth with three more runs, and Post 118 was never able to answer. The Merchants scored two more times before breaking the game open in the seventh inning.
After Cassville scored a run in the top of the frame, Carthage came back with five runs. Cassville scored two more in the eighth, but a grand slam ended their night in the eighth, giving Carthage an 18-6 victory and the championship.
Cassville's season came to a close with the contest. The team finishes the season with a record of 28-19. They are coached by Jerry Marple, Jeremy Marple and Roger Brock.
The team would like to extend special thanks to Security Bank, Pearl Foundation, Jeff Musick, Cassville Booster Club, Super 8 Motel, John Hendricks, Lennis Periman, Jerry Lyall and the Cassville R-4 School for their support during the season.