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Struggling B team comes alive in tourney

(ran PAS edition)

Too bad the playoffs couldn't have lasted all year for Odessa Post 147's American Legion B team. The second-year ballclub, which won three games all season, doubled its win total in the post season.

Assistant coach Mike Kruck figured things would be different from the outset as Odessa upset top-seeded Tampa Catholic, 3-2, in the first game of the District 15 tournament. Tampa Catholic defeated Odessa by the 10-run rule in the regular season.

Post 147 went 3-2 in the July 11-14 series and made it all the way to the Legion B championship game, an 8-6 loss to Berkeley Prep.

"We were low man on the totem pole," Kruck said. "We only won three games all year, but we battled every day. The kids put everything together. They worked hard. They really played above their heads."

Like the rest of the team, Odessa's pitching staff struggled throughout the year. But Mark Harmon, Evan Ortiz and Clinton Bennett came up with complete game victories in the tournament. Harmon earned the win over Tampa Catholic, Ortiz pitched his team to a 9-4 win over Gaither and Bennett helped Odessa beat Leto, 3-2.

Harmon and Ryan Hill each allowed four runs in the final game.

Kevin Collins led Post 147's offense, batting around .700 in the series. He also made an impact in the field. Normally a rightfielder, Collins was brought in to play first base after the second game, a 6-4 loss to Plant.

"Once we put him at first base, he was just grabbing everything," Kruck said. "Nothing was getting by him."

Another solid player on defense was Kelly Hartmann, who caught four of the five games. That included last Sunday's doubleheader. Odessa beat Leto in the first game before dropping the title contest.

Last year, Odessa's B team won just once and lost both of its playoff games.

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