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Hoss goes out on top with title

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Post 37 wins top Ashland for state championship as Jim Wiley acknowledges this is his last year

By Josh Cook

This one was for “Hoss.”

The Shelbyville American Legion Post 37 baseball team bounced back from a disappointing loss to Ashland Post 76 Thursday night with a 10-5 triumph over the Sixers on Friday night in the winner-take-all championship game of the state tournament at Collins High School. And the Post 37 players, to a man, said they did it for long-time Shelbyville manager Jim “Hoss” Wiley, who is retiring at the end of the season.

“We wanted to win for ‘Hoss,’” Post 37 pitcher Dan Sanders said.

They did, capturing the seventh state title for both Shelbyville and Wiley, who had privately told family and friends that this would be his final season before publicly acknowledging it after the victory.

“This just puts a little icing on the cake for me,” Wiley, who previously guided the team to state titles in 1983, ’91, ’92, 2005, ’09 and ’12, said with a smile.

It also puts Post 37 in this week’s Southeast Regional Tournament. Shelbyville (29-2) will play Florence (S.C.) Post 1 at 1 p.m. Thursday in its first game of the double-elimination tourney at McCrary Park in Asheboro, N.C.

It wasn’t easy as pie for Post 37, though. Ashland ended Shelbyville’s 15-game winning streak with 9-7 triumph Thursday night to send the double-elimination tourney to a decisive final game.

Ashland 9, Shelbyville 7

Before the game about 40 former Legion players gathered for pictures with Wiley on the field, then his five grandchildren each threw out first pitches.

The Sixers, however, spoiled the party.

Ashland scored single runs in the first two innings against Post 37 ace, and previously unbeaten, Eddie Mathis before adding three more runs in the seventh and eighth innings and a single run in the ninth to build a 9-2 lead. Post 76 then withstood Shelbyville’s five-run ninth inning to win.

A trio of Sixers pitchers – Jacob Pierce, Trey Johnson and Alex Jones - held Shelbyville to six hits. Pierce, a rising senior at Coal Grove (Ohio) High School, gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits while walking four and striking out four in seven innings to pick up the victory. 

Post 76, meanwhile, pounded out 14 hits against five Shelbyville pitchers.
Mathis, who entered with an 8-0 record, gave up two runs (one earned) on six hits while walking one and striking out six in the first five innings. Kipp Moore, David Decker, Lance Shelton and Paul Miller followed on the mound and combined to give up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits.

Zac Wiley led Post 37 at the plate with a pair of singles.

“I didn’t think we played very well. It bothered me because I knew we were better than that,” said Wiley, whose team had won its first three tournament games by a combined score of 33-4 – including a 13-3 victory over Ashland on Wednesday night.

It bothered the players too and they talked after the game.

“They left here with the right frame of mind,” Wiley said.

According to several players they continued to communicate throughout the night with group text messages. 

“We wanted to send him out with a bang,” Moore said of Wiley.

Shelbyville 10, Ashland 5

Friday afternoon Post 37 players began showing up at Collins around 3 p.m., two hours before the scheduled first pitch of the final.

“When I saw that I knew we had a great chance of winning the tournament,” Wiley said.

Shelbyville, though, left nothing to chance. It jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first inning recent South Oldham graduate Drew Greenwood singled with one out, moved to third on Wiley’s double, then scored when Brady Pfaadt hit into a fielder’s choice.

Post 37 plated three more runs – all with two outs - in the second inning that was highlighted by an RBI-single by Alex Doyle, a rising senior at Collins, and an RBI-double by Moore. 

“Losing [Thursday] was a huge letdown,” Sanders said. “We thought we were going to win before we actually played the game. This time we wanted to come out and be aggressive. We wanted to punch them in the mouth the first couple innings.”

Meanwhile Ashland’s bats were punchless against Sanders. The 2013 Collins graduate, who recently completed his freshman year at Spalding University, gave up one earned run on four hits while walking four and striking out six in six innings.

After Ashland scratched across its lone run against Sanders in the top of the sixth, Shelbyville answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning thanks to a pair of singles by Kyler Dugle and Nathan Conard and an error by Jones.
Post 76 plated one run in the top of the eighth, but Post 37 responded once again, this time with four runs, in the bottom of the inning. The big blows in that frame were a two-run double, fittingly, by Zac Wiley, Jim Wiley’s grandson, and an RBI-double by Pfaadt.

“We just came out aggressive and just more prepared this game,” said Buddy Johnson, who along with McDonald and Greenwood scored two runs. “We didn’t want to take anything for granted.”

McDonald, a rising junior at Collins, pitched the final three frames. He gave up four runs (three earned) on five hits while walking two and striking out six. He allowed one run in the eighth and three in the ninth, after running into some trouble. The first three Ashland batters reached base (all eventually scored) before McDonald settled down, striking out two of the next three hitters. Then, with runners on first and second and two outs, he induced Ashland’s Devin Duncan into a meek grounder in front of the mound. McDonald fielded it cleanly and threw to first base for the final out, setting off a celebration.

“It means a lot. We wanted him to go out on top,” Zac Wiley said of his “Poppy.” 

Wiley and McDonald led Shelbyville’s 13-hit attack with three apiece.

“The pitching was good with Dan and Will and we hit it like we hit it all year,” Jim Wiley said.

After the game, as the sun was setting outside, Wiley sat on a stool inside the Collins dugout and reflected on his time as an American Legion coach and manager.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, thirty-five years,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to win this seven times now, and this is just as exciting as the first.

“This is a great team, one of the best I’ve had, there couldn’t be a better time to [retire]. This is the way to do it.” 

2014 American Legion State Tournament
At Collins High School & Clear Creek Park
Monday

Game 1 (at Clear Creek) – Metcalfe County Post 65 4, Latonia Post 203 3
Game 2 (at Clear Creek) – Ashland Post 76 9, Florence Post 4 6
Game 3 (at Collins) – Paducah Post 31 3, Campbellsville Post 82 0
Game 4 (at Collins) – Shelbyville Post 37 20, Lyon County Post 68 1

Tuesday

Game 5 (at Clear Creek) – Florence Post 4 9, Latonia Post 203 0 (forfeit)
Game 6 (at Clear Creek) – Lyon County Post 68 def. Campbellsville Post 82
Game 7 (at Collins) – Ashland Post 76 def. Metcalfe County Post 65
Game 8 (at Collins) – Shelbyville Post 37 10, Paducah Post 31 0

Wednesday

Game 9 (at Clear Creek) – Lyon County Post 68 def. Metcalfe County Post 65
Game 10 (at Clear Creek) – Florence Post 4 def. Paducah Post 31  
Game 11 (at Collins) – Shelbyville Post 37 13, Ashland Post 76 3
Game 12 (at Collins) – Lyon County Post 68 def. Florence Post 4

Thursday

Game 13 (at Collins) – Ashland Post 76 def. Lyon County Post 68
Game 14 (at Collins) – Ashland Post 76 9, Shelbyville Post 37 7

Ashland 9, Shelbyville 7

Ashland Post 76        110 000 331 – 9 14 1
Shelbyville Post 37    000 100 105 – 7  6  2

Jacob Pierce, Trey Johnson, Alex Jones and Jesse James. Eddie Mathis, Kipp Moore (6), David Decker (7), Lance Shelton (8), Paul Miller (9) and Brady Pfaadt. W – Pierce. L – Mathis (8-1). 2B – Aaron Elam (A), J.B. Brown (A).

Friday

Game 15 (at Collins) – Shelbyville Post 37 10, Ashland Post 76 5

Shelbyville 10, Ashland 5

Ashland Post 76      000 001 013 –  5   9  3
Shelbyville Post 37  130 002 04X – 10 13 1

Kris Van Camp, Alex Jones (3), Joe Wallen (6) and Austin Wells. Dan Sanders, Will McDonald (7) and Pfaadt. W – Sanders. L – Van Camp. 2B – Kipp Moore (S), Zac Wiley (S), Pfaadt (S). Record – Shelbyville 29-2.