BY JOSH SIGLER KOKOMO TRIBUNE
---- — The Kokomo Post 6 American Legion baseball squad opened postseason play with a wild 12-10 victory over Greentown Post 317 Thursday night at CFD Investments Stadium in Highland Park in the first round of Kokomo Sectional play.
The contest featured 19 walks, four hit batsmen and nine errors. Kokomo held a 9-3 lead through four innings of play, but Greentown added a run in the fifth before breaking out for five runs in the sixth to pull within 11-9. Kokomo added a run on a bases-loaded walk in the seventh, and held tight to a 12-9 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, where the Sixers had to hold on for the victory.
Cree Johnston drew a one-out walk for Post 317, and Chris McCreary followed and was hit by pitch — Greentown’s 12th trip to first via a free pass in the game.
Ty Catt’s infield single loaded the bases with one out. Hayden Vint followed and drove home a run on a sacrifice flyout to center field, pulling Greentown to within 12-10.
Blake Vogl came in to pinch run for McCreary after McCreary was hit by pitch. Vogl was thrown out at third on a steal attempt for the game’s final out, much to the chagrin of manager Nick Sale, who argued with the field umpire following the play.
Kokomo (16-13) had defeated its Howard County rivals 10-0 in each of the squads’ two previous matchups during the regular season, and seemed well on its way to another lopsided victory over upstart Post 317, pushing across four runs in the top of the first inning. Drew Bellus drove in three runs with a single off the short porch in right center, while Logan Barnes added an RBI single earlier in the frame to get the Sixers on the board.
Post 6 starting pitcher Damon Prater was wildly effective in picking up the win on the hill. He allowed one hit in five innings of work while fanning nine. Greentown scored four runs on his watch — three earned — with the help of six walks and a pair of hit batsmen.
Five Kokomo hitters produced multi-hit games. Barnes went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Conner Milligan added a 2-for-4 clip with a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Isaac Turner went 2-for-4 with three walks and four stolen bases. Bellus was 2-for-4 with four RBIs, adding an RBI double in the sixth. Jessie Broomfield was also 2 for-4 from the leadoff spot.
Derek Durkes led Greentown (2-11) with three hits and three RBIs. Catt added two hits, while Johnston and Josh Keith had Post 317’s other hits.
Taylor Shallenberger drew the start and suffered the loss for Greentown, allowing eight runs — six earned — in three innings of work. He allowed eight hits, walked three and hit another.