It was a local baseball fan's dream Thursday at Perkins High School as the Sandusky's American Legion Post 83 program's present got a taste of the future in an exhibition tune-up game.
Post 83 claimed an 12-0 one-hit shutout of the combined 15- and 16-under junior teams in nine innings, but it was apparent to several of the "varsity" players afterward that the future looks just as strong as the present.
"They have potential," Post 83's Spencer Bryant (Perkins) said when asked about the junior team. "Maybe even the same level of talent we've been playing, and their pitching was maybe a lot better than we expected."
This summer is the first year for the junior Legion program, which is split into two teams -- 15-under and 16-under. The 16-under team is coached by former Sandusky High School coach and current Blue Streaks assistant Skyler Smith, while the 15-under team is coached by former SHS standout and current Blue Streaks pitching coach Troy Keegan.
"It was a stepping stone for us to come here and play who hopefully they're going to replace next year," Keegan said of the junior team's experience Thursday. "We came out a little timid, but I really thought we settled down and played decent after that. We didn't hit the ball ... but we're not used to seeing 88-miles-per-hour fastballs, either."
The 16-under team is off to a strong start in its inaugural season, as the team sports a 16-5 record.
"Compared to other junior Legion teams, we're right up top," Keegan said. "We just won six games against some southern Ohio teams in a tournament last weekend, and I know we're going to play Post 83 again, so hopefully we give them a better game next time."
Meanwhile, it was the best of both worlds for Post 83 coach Ray Neill.
After having back-to-back home games with Fremont and Bucyrus canceled, his team got in nine innings of work before heading to the Whitehouse Anthony Wayne tournament this weekend. Neill also got to see potential future players for his summer team.
"I was impressed with their pitching staff," Neill said of the junior team. "I thought it was pretty good and similar to what we've been seeing a little bit. Our arms obviously handled them pretty well with just the one hit, but I think it was good for them to come out and see the older guys up close.
"I got to see some guys I may be coaching in the near future, and for us, it was a chance for our pitchers to throw strikes and hitters to have good at-bats."
At a workout Wednesday and again before Thursday's exhibition, Neill challenged his players to treat the matchup seriously to help Post 83 get out of its recent funk.
Shon Alexander (Perkins), who will head to Garrett College in western Maryland for JUCO baseball next year, said the message was received.
"You practice how you play," Alexander said. "The junior team was talented, but we had to use this to get better every day. That's our main goal. To fix our problems we have to be more focused. ... We all need to start focusing on our game at the beginning of the day, not just when we're on our way here."
Said Bryant, "I thought we took a step in the right direction, but it's not completely where we want to be. We talked about pregame preparation, and we're still not ready mentally. When the game starts, we make the exact same mistakes, and you can't have that. It's a lack of focus, but we'll get it turned around. We just have to go out and get it."
Neill thought his team did an acceptable job of taking a serious approach to the game.
"I think for the most part we did," he said. "Our guys are smart enough to recognize that we are a little frustrated with our overall play and know the only way to get out of our little funk is by playing.
"We appreciate getting the junior team out here and getting nine innings of baseball against very good competition."
Post 83's first game at the Whitehouse tournament will be at 3 p.m. Saturday against Napoleon, followed by a 6 p.m. matchup with host Anthony Wayne. The team plays the Ohio Trojans at noon Sunday, followed by the tournament semifinals at 3 p.m. and the championship game at 6 p.m., if Post 83 advances that far.