A thorn in the side, an Achillesâ€™ heel, a pain in theâ€¦.
Er, well you get the picture. Whatever you want to call it, thatâ€™s exactly what Hendersonâ€™s Alex McMahan turned out to be to Denver Post 455 in the first round of the Area IV American Legion Baseball Playoffs.
With two outs and one away from heading into extra innings, McMahan entered the game as a pinch-hitter.
He made an impact immediately, hitting a three-run game-winning homer to left-center.
The blast not only ended the game but the series as well, as Denver bowed out 3-1 to Henderson.
â€œIt was just shocking. Everybody just kind of froze and watched the ball go,â€ Denver head coach Bruce Bolick said. â€œIt was kinda in slow motion. You hope it stays in, but it kept climbing,â€
McMahan won game three on the mound and helped his own cause, going 2-for-2 at the plate, including a solo-homer.
While McMahan was quiet in the first two games of the series, he impressed Bolick, who has coached for over three decades.
â€œHeâ€™s a good-looking young player,â€ Bolick said. â€œHe was the main factor in our loss in the series.â€
The three-run homer thwarted a rally in the top of the sixth that saw Denver score three runs, tying the game at six all.
With two outs, Dustin Hester, Tyler Howard and Dustin Weaver delivered RBI singles.
In the ballgame, Post 455 committed four errors, one of which gave Henderson a run.
Another error, an infield one, wouldâ€™ve given Denver its second out in the bottom of the seventh, prior to McMahanâ€™s homerun.
The first run of the game came on a Shane Galloway double in the bottom of the fourth.
Mitchell Lynch suffered the loss for Post 455, while Hendersonâ€™s Josh Miller earned the victory.
Lynch worked six and two-thirds, struck five batters and allowed two earned runs.
Miller pitched a complete game, but gave up 11 hits in the process.
Weaver led Post 455 going 4-for-4. Matt Kuster was 2-for-3.
Nick Eddy and Galloway both went 2-for-4 to pace Henderson. Jackie Corn contributed a RBI.
Out of time
Colby Burgin, Brandan Jones and Seth Alexander played their final game for Post 455 Wednesday afternoon.
Alexander, who also had a solid end to his career at East Lincoln, went 3-1 on the season and saw time as a reliever, a starter and behind the plate.
â€œSethâ€™s part was as a reliever. Then he pitched real well for us and did a good job for us,â€ Bolick said.
Jones, who hovered around the .400 mark most of the summer, finished with a .369 batting average.
He also turned in countless highlight reel-worthy catches in centerfield.
â€œBrandanâ€™s year was totally unexpected and improved his batting average almost 200 points,â€ Bolick said.
Burgin was a model of consistency, but that should come as no surprise to anybody thatâ€™s followed his career. He finished the legion season batting at a .389 clip.
â€œColby has been steady the whole summer. Heâ€™s been an excellent hitter throughout his career,â€ Bolick said.
Not only will their hitting be missed next season, but their stellar defense and veteran leadership.
â€œThey were a steadying influence. Brandan has been outstanding in centerfield and Colby made some plays in the infield,â€ Bolick said.
All-in-all, Post 455 put together a â€˜successfulâ€™ season in anybodyâ€™s eyes. After a two-win season last year, they went 11-11, a fact that pleased Bolick.
â€œThat was our main goal, to make the playoffs and just become a more competitive team and we did that,â€ he said. â€œWe got good efforts and had a good bunch of kids. They were pretty easy to work with,â€ he added.
by John Mark Brooks