TERRE HAUTE -- Opening up tournament play this weekend, Wayne Newton Post 346 showed some resiliency in coming from behind for a 6-5 victory against a Lafayette Post 11 team that was much better than the 1-7 record it sported to begin play.
Post 346 gave up three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to fall behind by a run, but plated a pair of their own in the top half of the seventh to remain unbeaten at 11-0 this season. Wayne Newton played a second late game on Thursday that was completed after deadline.
Manager John Hayes knew that Lafayette was going to give Post 346 a battle in the Thursday opener.
"I knew coming in that they hadn't won a lot of ballgames, but that's Lafayette," Hayes said. "Lafayette always plays well. They stepped up to the level of competition. It was a good test."
Hayes also agreed with the assertion that a tight game could be just what the team needed to focus on the task of winning its own tourney that continues today and Saturday.
"(Playing a one-run game) does help," Hayes said. "It's a big lift getting those two runs. It gets us a 'W' and makes it a lot easier as the tournament goes on. If you lose that first game then you have to win two in a row."
Things got underway quickly for the Post 346 offense as Northview rising senior Kodie Girton ripped a double to set the plate for AJ Reed, who blasted a home run that sailed over the centerfield wall for an early 2-0 lead off of Lafayette starter Wes Robledo.
Post 346 starter Zach Kent allowed baserunners in each of the first two innings, but kept Lafayette off the scoreboard, picking off a runner at first base in the opening frame and stranding two runners in the second inning.
In the third however, Lafayette was able to knot the score as Lafayette Harrison product, Adam Claypool smacked a single, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch before coming home on an RBI single by Brayden Harrington. Daniel Fleming and D.J. Frederick followed with singles to load the bases and Evan Munzer hit an RBI groundout to tie the game.
Robledo, also a Lafayette Harrison product, kept Post 346 off balance until the fifth inning when Dalton Sexton led off with a walk. Girton followed with a bunt single and the throw to first sailed into rightfield to score a run and moved Girton to third. Reed walked and Zac Niehaus followed with a fielder's choice that brought home a run for a 4-2 Wayne Newton lead.
Kent picked a bad time to give up his first walks of the game when he gave up two free passes in the fifth. The second one brought home a run after the leadoff hitter reached on an error, Daniel Fleming doubled and the next two hitters walked with two outs. With the sacks full, Robledo helped his own cause with a two-run single to put his team out front 5-4.
Post 346 was down to its final three outs and had left six runners on base through the first six innings against Robledo. However, the top of the lineup was up for Wayne Newton's final opportunity at the plate.
Reed doubled off the centerfield wall with one out and Niehaus followed with a double to left centerfield to tie the game and end Robledo's day on the mound.
Frederick came in to relieve and was greeted rudely by a sharp grounder that ricocheted off Lafayette's second baseman's shoulder. Niehaus scrambled home for the go-ahead run.
"There were some times when we had guys in scoring position that we didn't move the baseball, but that's the way it goes," Hayes said. "The kids were all battling hard and listening. Good things happen when you listen."
Jimmy Maxwell came in to finish off Lafayette in the seventh inning, retiring Post 11 in order.
Today's schedule starts at 3:30 p.m. with Bristol facing Plymouth. Evansville takes on Lafayette at 6 p.m. before Wayne Newton caps the evening with an 8:30 p.m. game.
Terre Haute Invitational
2B -- WN (Girton, Reed, Niehaus), LF (Fleming). HR -- WN (Reed). SB -- WN (Niehaus, West).