Mother nature continues to make schedule changes

TORONTO – Mother Nature has made a lasting impression this past week.

Another heavy rainfall hit the area as the Steubenville and Wayne County baseball teams prepared to begin the Region 7 American Legion Baseball Tournament Championship Series Monday at the Knight Baseball Complex. As a result of the latest downfall, the baseball action was postponed until today.

Post 33 (29-10) enters as the winner of the winner’s bracket. Steubenville defeated Alliance Saturday night to advance.

Meanwhile, Post 66 (26-6-2) made its way through the loser’s bracket.

The Gunslingers had to win two games Sunday in Toronto to advance to the championship series, and Post 66 was able to do just that as Wayne County toppled Tuscarawas County before defeating Alliance in the loser’s bracket final.

Post 66 will have to defeat Post 33 twice in order to win the regional championship. First pitch for the first game is once again scheduled for 4 p.m. If necessary, the second game is slated to start at 7 p.m.

“We will play when they tell us,” Steubenville head coach Donnie Young said. “We want to win a game. We will show up and play when they tell us to.”

With the postponing of the championship series, the inclement weather has forced games to be suspended or postponed three times during the tournament. The championship series was originally scheduled to be played Saturday.

“Mother Nature has not been kind to us,” Wayne County head coach Barry Craddock said. “It has affected everyone. It’s just not our team.”

The postponement means the players, coaches and fans of Wayne County will have to make another long trip to Toronto today.

“We were ready to play,” Craddock said. “We are tired of driving down here. We were ready to play two. Win or lose, we wanted to get it done.”

Steubenville has already faced and defeated Wayne County, winning 7-5 Thursday at Vaccaro Field.

“They are a solid team,” Young said. “They do everything well. They have no weaknesses.”

Post 33 plated three runs in the ninth to win the game.

“It was a good game,” Craddock said. “It wasn’t a well-played game. It was a close game. We were not able to get hits when we needed them.

“Alex Young is a special player. He is one heck of a player. He makes any team better. He is special.”

Though all of the teams in the tournament have had to deal with the weather-related issues, the situation has been even more difficult on the non-local teams with the longest trips to the area.

“We have to drive two hours,” Craddock said. “That is a lot different than 10 minutes.”

With pitching being so important in a tournament like this, the players who take the mound have been the only ones who have been helped by all of the inclement weather.

“Our No. 2 pitcher is on full rest,” Craddock said. “Our other pitchers now have another day of rest. The longer this gets delayed, the better it is for our pitchers.”

Post 33 is in good shape pitching-wise.

“All of our pitchers are ready,” Young said. “This is not going to help us now.”

With that being said, Steubenville is hoping it only has to play one game to win the tournament title, but Post 33 is prepared to play two.

“We are hoping we need to just play one,” Young said. “We are prepared for two. We will do whatever it takes.”

Post 33 is looking to win its fifth tournament title since the 2003 season. Steubenville is also looking to once again repeat as tournament champions. Steubenville captured the tournament title in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2012.

Post 33 went on to win the state title in 2007. The last tournament team to win the state title was Tuscarawas County. The Panthers did so back in 2010.

Wayne County has not won a tournament title since repeating as champions in 2004 and 2005.

Alliance also won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009.

Steubenville has had another successful season this year while dealing with inclement weather since the start of the campaign.

“We have dealt with it all year,” Young said. “We like to play a lot of games, and it has slowed us down. Hopefully, we can get back to playing, and we can keep playing.

“There is nothing we can do about the weather.”