TENNERTON — General Manager Kevin Boring, Coaches David and Danny Marple and the Buckhannon American Legion Post #7 team punched their ticket to the state tournament for the first time in over a decade last week after coming out on top of a best of three game Area Five Championship series with rival Elkins Post #29.
The series began on a sour note for Buckhannon Post #7, as they fell short in game one of the series in Elkins, back on Tuesday July 19 by a final score of 4 to 2. While there was much to be positive for Post #7, as they out-hit Elkins Post #29 six to three, with Eli Bryant leading the way with a 2-3 mark at the plate and Landon Marple put together a solid complete game in which he only allowed three hits and four runs, while sitting down a pair of Post #29 batters; it was not quite enough to score a win in game one.
Facing possible elimination and an abrupt end to their Summer season, the Buckhannon Post #7 Legionnaires returned home the very next day on Wednesday, July 20 for game two of the Area Five championship series against Post #29. Buckhannon Post #7 earned a massive 7 to 2 win to extend the series to a winner-take all game three.
Post #7 started the must-win home game off with pitcher Brady Hurst on the mound. Hurst and company forced Elkins Post #29 into quick three and out in the top of the first inning before taking control of the game by racking three scores of their own up in the bottom of the inning. The first inning offensive push kickstarted by a two RBIs line-drive single to right field, driving in both Ryder Aman and Grant Mealey. After getting on base, Calef-Boring quickly stole second, getting in scoring position just in time for Ian Donnen to smash a hard ground ball up right centerfield and clear his path home.
Both teams went quiet in the following three innings, as the game slowly turned into a pitcher’s duel, with Buckhannon Post #7 up 3 to 0. Elkins Post #29 got on the board in the fifth to cut the lead to 3 to 1 before Post #7 responded with a huge four run inning to extend their lead to 7 to 1 heading into the seventh inning. The Buckhannon Legionaries clutch four run stretch in the bottom of the sixth was kickstarted by a line drive double by Ryan Snyder which drove both Mealey and Donnen. Aman singled later in the inning to drive home Snyder, and Payton Bennett scored on an error to wrap up the scoring for Post #7. Tucker Burr finished the game out with a quick three and out to seal the deal Buckhannon Post #7 and send the series to a decisive game three.
Game three on Thursday, July 21, in Elkins proved to be everything you expect from a win-or-go home contest, as both teams traded blows throughout the course of a high-scoring, back and forth affair. Post #7 got things started with three runs in the first inning. Mealey got things started with a single that allowed Aman to score and Bryant to get in scoring position. The almost automatic Calef-Boring made contact opening up Bryant to score before Mealey stole home base later in the inning to wrap up the early three score stretch. After Post #7 doubled their early 3 to 0 lead to 6 to 0 in the third inning; it looked as if Buckhannon Post #7 was going to run away with the road win, the Area Five crown, and a ticket to the state tournament. However, Elkins Post #29 nearly managed to erase their deficit in one inning, scoring five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to cut Post #7’s lead to just one-run, at 6 to 5. Elkins Post #29 stole the lead with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, heading down the stretch with an 8 to 6 lead. Buckhannon Post #7 responded with a run in the sixth, and a pair of runs in the seventh to take back a 9 to 8 lead before Elkins scored one last run in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to a decisive eighth inning. Post #7 broke the tie after Snyder singled on a 1-1 count to drive in Mealey. Burr drove in Calef-Boring before Snyder scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 12 to 9. Post #7 sealed the deal in the bottom of the eighth as pitcher Calef-Boring finished things off on the mound with two quick strikeouts and a ground out to seal the deal.
Donnen got the start for Post #7, picking up four strikeouts before Drahden Rice threw two-thirds of an inning in relief out of Post #7’s bullpen. Calef-Boring finished things out on the mound for Post #7 in the win-or-go home game, surrendering a single run on three hits over the span of three and a third innings, sitting down four Post #29 batters in the championship game. The Post #7 pitching staff was aided by sure handed fielding all game long, as Buckhannon didn’t commit a single error in a display of disciplined, well-coached baseball. Offensively, Post #7 totaled eleven hits. Both Snyder and Mealey each collected three hits apiece to power the Buckhannon Legionnaires potent offensive battery to the game three win. With the win, Buckhannon Post #7’s season marches into the state tournament for the first time since 2006.