With a solid season of American Legion baseball in the books for Pacific Post 320, plans are to have at least two teams compete in the Ninth District once again next season.
The 2013 Legion campaign produced a Junior team that finished with a 29-7 record and second-place finishes in the Ninth District regular season and postseason Tournament.
Post 320 also qualified for the Zone 1 Tournament, where it had a 2-2 record.
The Pacific Freshman team started the season with a 4-0 record, but struggled a bit down the stretch to finish with a 9-12 overall mark.
Plans for 2014
Kevin Schneider, Post 320 baseball program coordinator, definitely plans to have a team on the Senior level in 2014.
At least one, possibly two, other teams will likely represent Post 320.
“We’d like to have three teams next year. It just depends on what kind of turnout we have,” said Post 320 Junior Manager Cory Cowsert. “Hopefully kids will see the success our two teams had this year and will want to be a part of it. I don’t want to turn anyone away from trying out, regardless of where they’re from.”
Cowsert said players from this year’s Junior team are anxious to make the jump to the Senior level.
“Some of our kids wanted to move up to the Senior level this year,” Cowsert said. “We’re excited about next year. We need to make some additions to the team. We may not succeed every game, but playing on the Senior level will make our guys better all-around players.
“As far as the lower-level teams go for next year, we’re going to build our Senior team first and foremost, and then see what we have.”
Nathan Bruns, who was the manager of the Post 320 Freshman squad this year, will coach again next year on either the Freshman or Junior levels.
“We know Cory will coach the Senior team, and hopefully we’ll have a Junior team that I coach. It’s just a matter of numbers and how many kids we have interested in playing,” Bruns said. “Cory knows the game. He played at a high level. The future looks good.”
Cowsert is putting together a fall team, which will play out of Pacific.
“All of our guys are playing fall ball, except the ones who are involved with a high school fall sport,” Cowsert said. “We’ll play against teams from St. Louis County.”
It was a breakthrough 2013 season for the Post 320 Juniors.
“To be honest, going into the season, I just wanted us to have a record above .500 and to finish in the top half of our league,” Cowsert said. “A lot of our success had to do with our pitching. It was nice to have eight or nine guys who could pitch. Most of our guys finished the season with an ERA under three.”
Pacific’s pitchers were Ryan Howell, Noah Brocato, Tyler Straatmann, Allen Fitzgerald, Drew Fonner and Tyler Gerling.
Ryan Ray and Austin Muich pitched for both the Junior and Freshman teams.
Ryan Vogelgesang was the catcher for most of Pacific’s games.
Post 320 had a balanced offensive attack as well, led by Alex Rice, Brendan McMillan, Straatmann, Fonner, Vogelgesang, Fitzgerald, Howell and Gerling.
“We went through a few slumps, but that’s baseball,” Cowsert said. “Our offense was pretty solid for most of the season. We had guys who put up some good numbers.”
It was a bit of a roller coaster season for the Post 320 Freshman squad.
“It was quite an experience. There were a lot of ups and downs during the season. We started the season 4-0. We lost some players to the Junior team, but it was a good opportunity for some younger guys to get playing time,” Bruns said. “We had a great group of kids. For the most part, they gave it 100 percent. We had good team chemistry. I was blessed to be able to coach this group.”
Muich was the team’s top pitcher throughout the campaign. Sam Fuchs was the top catcher.
“I can’t say enough about Austin as a kid and a player. He did anything we asked of him,” Bruns said. “Sam did a great job behind the plate and also on the mound.”
Tristan Longsdon was a major contributor at the plate and on the mound.
“Tristan had big hits all year long,” Bruns said.
“Cody Rettinghaus, who goes to St. Clair High School, was a pleasant surprise,” Bruns added. “He hit in the top half of our lineup and had a good season. He drove the ball, stole bases and played smart. It was nice to have him on the team.”
Bruns said other top contributors included Reid Dauster, Jacob Michael, Alex Westermann, Mike Sinnott and Tanner Wright.