PRINCETON -- The stands were full and not a cloud was in the sky as the 2013 Post 25 State Championship team was honored at Gil Hodges Field, celebrating the five year anniversary of the achievement. Coach Jesse Simmons, a few assistants, and the majority of the players, returned and were honored in an on-field ceremony in between games as Post 25 took on St. Louis in a doubleheader.
For current coach Lance Flener, this offered an opportunity to light a spark under his team as they prepare for regional play, as well as see and honor the accomplishments of old friends.
"It was great having them back here. I think it was important for our team, to see them back, and we put on a good performance for them. We got two wins, that's three straight now," Flener said.
As for the actual baseball being played, having past success back did lead to success on Sunday. Post 25 swung hot bats all day, and paired with good pitching, picked up two wins against St. Louis, 13-3 and 6-5. The second win came via walk-off single from North Posey's Kyle LaVanchy, who was a fill-in for the day for Post 25.
LaVanchy's presence did have another effect, as Flener was forced to watch the two games from the press box, due to the IHSAA's moratorium week, disallowing high school coaches to coach their players from July 2-8. Flener is an assistant coach to Simmons on the North Posey varsity staff.
In game one, Post 25 jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. A Trevor Boyle 2 RBI triple, and a David Jones single drove in three runs for Post 25 in the first. Two more singles from LaVanchy in the second and fourth increased the lead, and by the fifth inning Post 25 led 6-3. A six-run fifth inning broke the game open, and Post 25 ended up mercying St. Louis 13-3.
Cody Hupp started game one for Post 25, and went the full six innings featuring electric stuff. He threw just 65 pitches, striking out two and only allowing two hits. St. Louis's three runs came via a double in the top of the third, acting as the only blemish on the day for Hupp. LaVanchy led the charge offensively in game one, driving in four runs on four hits, and scoring two runs of his own.
"Kyle was great today. He was just a fill-in pitcher for us today, but I knew what I was getting out of him. I knew he would come here and compete, give 100 percent, no matter what," Flener said.
Game two was a much closer affair, one that was more indicative of how the season has gone for Post 25. They jumped out to another early lead in the bottom of the second, behind a wild pitch that scored Braxton Rice and a sacrifice fly from Joey Church. However, the lead was relinquished in the top of the third, when St. Louis pushed across four runs off LaVanchy, who started game two on the mound.
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Post 25 began the fight back in the bottom of the third frame, cutting the lead to 4-3 off a Hupp double. The teams traded runs in the fifth inning, and Post 25 found themselves still trailing by a run heading into the sixth. But, as he has done all year, Boyle came through with an RBI single that tied the game, 5-5. A single from Aaron Breivogel and a sacrifice bunt from Casey Straub put Princeton in position to win the game in the bottom of the seventh with one out.
LaVanchy stepped to the plate, and delivered the game-winner, a line drive single to center field off a St. Louis fastball. Rice had a good second game offensively, scoring two runs on three hits. Straub picked up the win on the mound, relieving LaVanchy for the seventh inning.
Post 25 extends its winning streak to three. They have three more regular season games this week, before the regional tournament begins Thursday, July 26. They'll travel to Evansville Pate on Monday, host Terre Haute on Thursday, and travel to Boonville for a makeup game on Saturday.
"We are gaining momentum for the regional tournament. Our plate-approach has been better, we've been throwing strikes," said Flener in regards to how his team is playing at a critical time in their season. "If we can keep playing like this, we have a good shot of winning it (regional)."