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Baseball: American Legion Columbia Post 300 wins Hillbilly Hardball Classic

The American Legion Columbia Post 300 Patriots captured the 22nd annual Hillbilly Hardball Classic duringFather's Day weekend (June 14-17) in Elkins, WV.

The Patriots went 7-0-1 in the tournament, playing eight games in four days with eight different starting pitchers, including Ben Goldsmith's 10-strikeout, one-hit shutout of then-undefeated host Elkins Post 29, the runner-up in the West Virginia state tournament each of the last two years.

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Also earning wins for Post 300 were Erik Sackandy, Patrick Watson and Colin Dyer in pool play, and Connor Delaney, Areian Vedadi and Jerry Burgo in the playoffs.

Garrett Kurtz and Watson each earned saves in the playoffs against a pair of powerful teams from Ohio, including top-seeded Post 283 of Pickerington, OH, which came into the game with a 20-1 record, and finished 42-5 last year as the Ohio state runner-up.

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Burgo also got out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs to preserve a tie against Post 2 of Morgantown, WV. That game ended after the time limit was exceeded and catcher Kevin Francis threw out a runner at home.

Several other key defensive plays were made by Dyer, Francis, Brandon Kratochwill, Brett Kohler, Kurtz and Sackandy. The pitching staff allowed only 11 earned runs in the eight games, and the opponents' running game was shut down by catchers Zack Astran, Francis and Ben Koffel.

The Pats' bats also came alive for the tournament, averaging 7.4 runs per game, led by Sackandy (.536 AVG, 15 H, 11 R, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 7 RBI), Kurtz (.500 AVG, 13 H, 6 2B, HR, 8 RBI), Koffel (.333 AVG, 9 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI), Jared Lacey (.333 AVG, 6 R, 3 2B, 6 RBI) and Kratochwill (.526 AVG, 10 H, 2 2B, 3B, 8 RBI).

Solid games were put together by many Patriot hitters, including Kohler, who was 3-3 with 2 runs, 2 doubles and 3 RBIs against Berkeley, WV; and Burgo who was 4-4 with 3 RBIs against Buffalo, NY.

Returning to league play, the Patriots (4-1) will next host Severna Park Post 175 on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Centennial High School.

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