LANCASTER, Ohio — Thorough … from start to finish.
The Meigs Post 39 baseball team opened up with three runs in the top of the first and never looked back on Wednesday during a 6-1 victory over Pemberville Post 183 in the opening round of the 2019 Ohio American Legion state baseball tournament being played at Beavers Field in Fairfield County.
The Rangers (17-4) led wire-to-wire while remaining unbeaten in postseason play, as the guests used a hit, two walks and an error — all coming with two outs — to ultimately build a lead they would never relinquish.
Gaining that early lead also proved to be a pivotal point throughout the contest, as Post 39 dodged bullets in the second, fourth, fifth and seventh frames after Post 183 eventually stranded runners in scoring position with less than two outs in each inning.
Top-seeded Pemberville (40-16) did manage a breakthrough in the bottom of the third as a Joshua Vischer groundout allowed Dawson Delvethal to score from third, cutting the lead down to 3-1 through three complete.
The Rangers — who came up empty after loading the bases in the third — received a handful of breaks in the top half of the fifth while adding three more scores for some breathing room at 6-1.
With the bases loaded and one away in the home half of the fifth, the Rangers produced a ground ball and a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play to escape with their five-run lead still intact.
The hosts managed just two baserunners the rest of the way, leaving runners stranded on the corners as Tyler Haas popped out to rightfielder Cooper Peters for the final out — wrapping up the five-run triumph.
The win allowed Post 39 to advance to the winners bracket semifinal round on Thursday, where it will face Wayne County Post 68 at 4 p.m. Thursday. Post 68 defeated Conneaut Post 151 on Wednesday by a 2-1 count.
Briar Wolfe started the opening Ranger rally with a two-out single, then moved up a base following a walk to Brody Jeffers.
Miles Williams then walked to load the bases, and an error allowed Coltin Parker to reach safely as both Wolfe and Jeffers scored for a quick 2-0 edge.
The error also allowed Williams to move to third, who then scored on a passed ball to make it a 3-0 contest after a half-inning of play.
Delventhal started the bottom of the third by reaching second on an error, then stole third before coming home on Vischer’s groundout while trimming the deficit down to two.
Briar Wolfe opened the top of the fifth by reaching safely on a dropped third strike, then moved to second on a wild pitch before advancing to third on a pop-up out that resulted in the fielder ending up in the Post 39 dugout.
It was the first out of the inning, but Wolfe also was awarded third as the ball/catch ended up in a dead-ball area of play.
Williams followed by taking first base after being hit by a pitch, then Mason Hanning walked to load the bases with one away.
Wyatt Hoover blooped a ball down the right field line that was dropped in fair play, allowing Briar Wolfe to come plateward for a 4-1 advantage.
Williams then came plateward on a wild pitch, while Hanning scored on a Kyelar Morrow groundout that resulted in a 6-1 cushion midway through the five frames.
Pemberville outhit the guests by a slim 6-5 overall margin, but also committed three of the five errors in the contest. The Rangers stranded eight runners on base, while Post 183 left seven on the bags.
Post 39 starter Coltin Parker was the winning pitcher of record, allowing one unearned run and two hits over 3.2 innings of work while striking out two. Parker — who threw only 46 pitches — was one of three hurlers used by the guests.
Post 183 starter Jacob Boelkens took the loss after surrendering four unearned runs, three hits and three walks over 4.1 frames of work while striking out six.
Jeffers, Wolfe, Wyatt Hoover, Billy Harmon and Carter Smith had a hit apiece for the victors. Scott Mackiewicz paced Pemberville with two hits, while Vischer, Haas, Cole Noftz and Justin Pickerel added a safety apiece in the setback.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.