Weston Rivers and state championship games seem to go well together.
Rivers took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the Division II high school state title game for Defiance in June. He took the ball for Napoleon Post 300 in Friday’s American Legion state championship and threw another gem to lead Napoleon to a 13-1 win and its second title in three years.
“Obviously with the outing he had in the state championship game in the spring and this one here, he’s proved he’s a winner,” Post 300 coach Shane Coleman said.
Rivers struck out 15 in the June 8 final as Defiance beat Jonathan Alder 8-2. He did not allow a hit until one out in the seventh inning in that game. After Napoleon lost 11-0 on Thursday to Circleville, Coleman said Rivers was excited about the chance to pitch for another state title.
He was dominant in allowing only five hits and one run. He struck out eight, the final three in the ninth inning after sitting for a half-hour as Post 300 (41-18) cushioned its 4-1 lead.
“He made no bones about the fact that he wanted the ball and wanted to go all nine innings,” Coleman said. “He lived up to his reputation. He had another outstanding performance today.”
All of Napoleon’s runs came in two innings. The game was scoreless until the top of the fifth when five consecutive Post 300 batters reached after two outs against Circleville starter Daryin Lewis. A single by Dylan Henricks opened the scoring and was followed with back-to-back doubles to stake Napoleon to a 4-0 lead.
That ended an 11-inning scoreless streak for Post 300 and proved to be all Rivers needed.
“Without a doubt, those four runs kind of calmed everybody down and gave us some confidence,” Coleman said. “Things just seemed to roll from that point.”
Post 134 (37-11) scored its lone run on a double play in the bottom of the seventh. With the exception of the fifth, Lewis matched Rivers for most of the game until the ninth, when Napoleon struck for nine runs.
“We just ran out of gas,” Circleville coach Jeff Lanman said. “We come in the last inning and it’s 4-1, and I thought we were still in the ballgame. We needed to hold them there, and obviously we didn’t.”
Three pitchers combined to allow eight hits in the inning, and Austin Hancock’s grand slam put an emphatic note on the game.
“It’s huge for the program,” Coleman said. “It’s a testament to the baseball in northwest Ohio.”