By Jason Peake
Missourian Sports Writer
Washington’s bats were mostly silent early in Wednesday’s contest with Eureka.
Fortunately for the hosts, the bats woke up in a big way.
Propelled by an offensive eruption, Washington Post 218 rallied late for a 9-4 victory over Eureka Post 177 in a first round game of the Missouri Freshmen Legion State Tournament on Wednesday night at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field.
Washington had just three hits in the first four innings, but then exploded for 10 in the final three frames. Eureka led 4-1 after four frames when Washington scored eight unanswered runs in the last three innings to advance in the winners’ bracket.
“We had some good at-bats early, but couldn’t get many runs across,” Post 218 Manager Scott Forrester said. “Then we went cold for a few innings. But I have to give this team credit. They persevered. They understood what the pitcher was doing against us, they made some adjustments and they came back. We did what we needed to do. It was nice to see.”
Wednesday’s win put Washington in a winners’ bracket game with Jackson on Thursday (see related story).
The Ninth District runner-up, Post 218 got solid contributions from several players up and down the lineup against Eureka.
Drew Piontek drove in three runs on two hits, while Nathan Breckenkamp, Zach Finley and Jacob Unnerstall all contributed two hits apiece. Matt Piontek and Unnerstall had one RBI apiece, while Breckenkamp and Quinton Poepsel scored two runs apiece. Eli Marquart, Teddy Meyer, Matt Piontek, Finley and Unnerstall scored one run apiece.
“A lot of guys came up big for us,” Forrester said. “Jacob Unnerstall and Eli Marquart both ripped really good shots.”
In addition to the offense, Washington (27-10) advanced due to a solid pitching performance from Zach Finley.
Finley was solid on the mound for Post 218, going seven innings and allowing three earned runs and eight hits. He walked three and struck out six.
“It was a great performance from Zach Finley,” Forrester said. “They got some hits off him early, but he bore down and did what he needed to do.”
Washington stranded two in scoring position in the first inning and then Post 177 pushed across two runs in the bottom half on three singles and a walk.
Post 218 got on the board in the second, as Poepsel tripled with two outs. He then scored on a wild pitch. Eureka answered with two runs in the second, using a triple, a walk, a double steal and then a ground out, making it 4-1. The score held up until the fifth. That’s when Washington finally got the bats going.
Breckenkamp singled, Poepsel walked and then Finley singled. After an out, Drew Piontek cleared the bases with a double to right-center, tying the game.
Finley and Post 218 held Eureka in check in the bottom half, with a nice catch by third baseman Unnerstall in foul territory helping the cause.
Washington then took the lead in the top of the sixth. Breckenkamp and Finley both singled. An error on the throw in allowed Breckenkamp to score, giving Post 218 its first lead at 5-4.
Eureka went down in order in the bottom of the sixth and then Washington added four key insurance runs in the seventh to pull away.
Marquart and Unnerstall hit back-to-back doubles, Meyer and Piontek both singled and it was 7-4. After an out, Meyer scored on a passed ball. Piontek later scored on a balk to make it 9-4.
Finley then retired the side to secure the win.
Jake Burlison, Drew Sundet and Brendan Pollihan all had one RBI apiece for Post 177, while Adam Bujmak had two hits.
Jacob Reinkemeyer went six innings for Eureka and allowed three earned runs. He took the loss. Alex Silvernail gave up two earned runs in one inning.