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Post 37 takes second at district

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By Todd Martin

The Shelbyville American Legion Post 37 baseball team was inches, or less, from taking the District 3 title at Oldham County Saturday.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Shelbyville led 8-5.

That's when things went wrong, very wrong.

Shelbyville pitchers put together a string of four walks and one hit batter that kept Oldham alive. Then with runners on second and third, an Oldham double proved to be the walk-off hit.

"Up 8-5 with two outs and we couldn't get an out, couldn't throw a strike," Post 37 head coach Jim Wiley said. "We give up some walks and then Oldham County gets a hit to right field and the game's over."

Despite finishing second, the team still has a chance to win the ultimate prize -- the state tournament. The top two teams from each of the state's four districts advance to the double-elimination state tournament.

And, with the way Shelbyville played throughout much of the tournament, they certainly can't be counted out.

Post 37 dropped the first game, 4-1 to Ashland, getting just four hits.

However, the team combined for 50 runs on 41 hits, including seven home runs -- three from Craig Edwards and two from Ryan Shea -- in a 19-0 win over Paintsville, an 18-4 win over Morehead and a 13-1 revenge win over Ashland.

"We hit everything they threw up there," Wiley said. "Lot of home runs, lots of everything. We just started hitting like crazy. And the eight runs in the championship should have been more than enough to win. But Oldham County played well, and they deserved to win."

Gregg Tingle and Dylan Grandon also added home runs in the team's win over Morehead.

"All in all, I thought we played well and I think we're playing some our best right now," Wiley said. "We knew if we dropped that first game (against Ashland) the schedule would be tough, but we fought through it until that last game."

State

The team's draw at state isn't easy and it took a tough blow on Monday afternoon.

Shelbyville's starting DH, Lincoln Wagner, will miss the tournament to have surgery on his shoulder. In the district tournament Wagner hit .429, getting nine hits in 21 at bats and earning five walks while scoring six runs.

"He's the top hitter on our team, and that's a major blow for us," Wiley said. "It won't kill us, but it's certainly going to hurt us. But you always have situations, and injuries, that you have to fight through, and good teams find a way to win. It makes me think back to 2005 (the last time Shelbyville won state) when we had a player that had to have surgery in the middle of the year. We rallied around that then, and hopefully we can do that now. We're going to have to make some changes, but I think we can still do it."

Wiley said if he had to pick a favorite it would be Bowling Green, but only because they are the home team; the tournament will be played at Western Kentucky University.

"We've played all the teams that will be there, and I think it's as wide open as it's ever been," he said. "It's going to come down to whoever gets the breaks -- a couple of good pitched games."

Bowling Green also just happens to be Shelbyville's opening round opponent.

"I think whoever wins that (Shelbyville/Bowling Green) game will have a pretty clear path at least to the semifinals," Wiley said. "The most important thing in a tournament like this is to win that first game. I'm not sure who's going to pitch yet, but if we have to we'll run half our pitchers out there to win."

The Shelbyville/Bowling Green game will cap off Thursday's first-round action at 8 p.m. The winner will play again on Friday at 5 p.m., and the loser will play at 11 a.m. The finals are set for Sunday at 3 p.m., and a second game if needed will be played Monday at 1 p.m.