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Legion team rallies from poor start

Odessa Post 147 is on a roll with four wins in its past six games, including three straight in one stretch.

After a poor start, the American Legion team of ballplayers from Land O'Lakes, Pasco and Zephyrhills high schools is a game below .500 at 7-8.

The winning streak ended with last Wednesday's 8-7, 10-inning loss to King Post 334, the second time Odessa lost by one run in 10 innings. Before that, Post 147 had not lost since an 11-6 defeat to Tampa Post 248 in the first game of a doubleheader on June 18.

"It's just a matter of we played well and beat some good teams," Odessa coach Calvin Baisley explained. "We're getting good pitching and we've got some guys pounding the ball."

In that string of victories came one of Odessa's most notable accomplishments in its three seasons _ a 7-5 win over Post 248 on the back end of their doubleheader. That marked the first time Post 147 had ever beaten the team of Tampa Jesuit and Jefferson High baseball players.

"It's been an uphill battle," Baisley said. "That was a big win. They were undefeated. They've got a lot of good players."

One good player for Odessa is no longer with the team. With the departure of pitcher-infielder Mike Brunet, who was drafted by Minnesota Twins but accepted a baseball scholarship to Pasco-Hernando Community College last week, Post 147 is down to an 11-man roster. On occasion, Baisley calls up a player from the first-year B team.

"We do pretty good for 11 guys," the coach said.

Justin Martindale did an exemplary job when he filled in at shortstop against Post 248, hitting a two-run single. He also played well at shortstop, charging a slow roller to throw a Tampa runner out.

"At that point, his confidence went way up," Baisley said.

Odessa followed that game with wins over Plant City Post 126 (10-1) and Spring Hill Post 186 (6-3).

Matt Newcomer pitched a two-hitter against Plant City and helped his own cause by going 4-for-4 with four RBI. Danny Boyd chipped in with a 3-for-5 night and his fifth home run.

Boyd threw a three-hitter in last Sunday's win over Spring Hill, and Newcomer, who went 3-for-4, sparked a four-run first with a two-run double.

Tim Crosby saved the game in the eighth by making a backhand catch over the top of the centerfield fence to rob Charlie Plaia of a grand slam.

"When he hit it I knew it was over my head," Crosby said. "I looked up and got it and my knee hit the fence."

Odessa's luck ran out against King when the team blew a 7-2 lead and the winning run scored on Crosby's wild pitch. Crosby and Newcomer each had three hits in that game with Newcomer driving in two runs. Rob Roberts had two hits and two RBI.

Newcomer leads the team with a .531 batting average. Boyd, who is hitting .421, has five home runs and 22 RBI, both team highs.

"He's going to be a dominating player because he swings the bat so well," Baisley said of Boyd, who will be a junior at Pasco High.

Crosby is batting .346 and Roberts is hitting .333 with three homers and 11 RBI.