Down 1-0 in a best-of-three series, the Post 423 Junior Legion team turned to catcher turned pitcher, Zack Wright, to deliver a win and keep its season alive.
Wright award the coaching staff and his teammates with a complete-game performance to lead 423 to a 2-1 win to force a deciding Game 3 tonight.
“Zack really isn’t even a pitcher,” 423 head coach Curtis Snethen said after the win. “We’ve seen some potential in him from the day we got him and he’s been our No. 2 guy all year. Today he got a chance to start Game 2, threw strikes and spotted his pitches well. The scoreboard says it all today.”
Wright, a rising sophomore at R-S Central, allowed just three hits while striking out four.
“[The coaches] have always had confidence in me,” Wright said. “I never really thought I’d be pitching in a situation like this.”
Shelby’s one run game in the third inning when Russ Branch scored on an RBI fielder’s choice by Elijah Spurling.
Post 423 managed just one hit in the first three innings before a two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth put the Juniors on top for good.
Nathan Owens sparked the run with a solid single into right center promptly followed by another base hit from Daiquon “Day-Day” Davenport to put runners on first and second with two outs.
Matthew Dailey stepped to the plate and lined one down the right field line for a double chasing Owens and Davenport across the dish for the go-ahead runs.
“Dailey did his job tonight. We know he isn’t as fast as our other right fielder [Mathhew] Jenkins but he earned his start tonight,” Snethen said of the rising sophomore Hilltopper. “Once he got that base hit we decided it was time to get someone in that can run for us.”
Snethen made a wise choice inserting Jenkins into right field after he made a diving catch to end the top of the sixth inning when Post 82 was threatening to tie the game.
The play was probably most appreciated by Jenkins’ pitcher.
“It gives me a whole lot more confidence knowing that my team is behind me and have my back,” Wright said of his defenders. “It’s good knowing I’m not just out there by myself pitching.”
“We got great defense behind [Wright] all night,” Snethen added.
423 failed to add any insurance run in the sixth and Post 82 made it interesting in the final frame.
A leadoff error by Post 423 third baseman Brice Hamrick put the tying run on base for Post 82.
“When he made the error I knew I couldn’t show that I was down. I went over to him and told him he was alright,” Wright said.
Post 82 bunted the runner over to second but Wright settled in, struck out the next batter and got a lazy fly ball into right field to seal the win for Post 423 and force a deciding Game 3 tonight for a spot in the state playoffs.
The location for tonight’s Game 3 wasn’t cemented as off Tuesday night.
“As of [Tuesday] morning, [Post 82] agreed to have it here, but at the end of the line tonight they said they wanted to have the game at Crest,” Snethen said after his team’s Game 2 victory. “I understand you don’t want to give up home field advantage but we’ll do what we can to keep it here. If it goes to Crest we’ll play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”