Washington Post 218 was eager to repeat as Blue Springs Wood Bat Tournament champion.
But Jefferson City Post 5 had other ideas.
Jefferson City (33-4) held off Washington (30-6) Sunday afternoon to win the title, 4-2.
“Even though it was a disappointing loss it was still a great tournament for us,” said Post 218 Manager Mike Gardner. “It is really tough to win seven games in five days against quality competition.”
Gardner said Jefferson City took advantage of Washington’s mistakes.
“We really did not look like the same team,” Gardner said. “We did not play good defense and our starting pitching was not what we usually see. We also did not take advantage of a couple of opportunities early in the game to score some runs.”
Washington and Jefferson City have a longtime rivalry and have frequently met in the postseason. Two seasons ago, many of the same kids were on the field as Jefferson City defeated Washington in the Junior Legion Zone 1 Tournament championship game, a 5-4 Post 5 win in nine innings. Washington had led 4-1 going into the bottom of the seventh of that contest.
For the past two years, Washington has beaten Jefferson City in the Zone 1 Tournament. Last year’s game was a 1-0 Post 218 victory.
In Sunday’s championship game, Washington got onto the scoreboard first, scoring in the bottom of the second.
Sam Katzung led off with a double. Todd Kleekamp came in to run for him and Post 5 brought back the force by walking Jack Kopmann.
Ben Huffman put down a bunt and moved the runners to second and third.
Kleekamp came home when Grant Eckelkamp grounded out to shortstop.
Post 5 exploded for four runs in the top of the third inning. Jefferson City loaded the bases with nobody out.
Washington nearly escaped with the game tied, but Daniel Castillo smacked a double to the base of the fence to bring home three more runs.
“Give them some credit as they took advantage of our mistakes and they played the kind of defense that we usually play,” Gardner said.
Washington had one final chance in the seventh inning. Tony Helfrich led off with a walk and Eckelkamp singled.
Dilan Bollmann hit a grounder to shortstop and beat out the double play opportunity, putting runners at the corners.
Trent Leimkuehler flied out and Helfrich came home with Washington’s second run.
Matt Jones followed with a single and Tyler Tuepker ran for him.
With the winning run at the plate, Noah Borgerding fought for a nine-pitch at-bat, Cole Disler struck him out to end the game.
“As bad as we played we still had a chance to come back at the end of the game but just could not get the big hit,” Gardner said.
Disler went the distance for Post 5 to get the win. He allowed two runs on five hits and five walks while striking out five.
Schuler took the loss, going 2.2 innings while allowing four runs (three earned) on two hits and two walks. He struck out one.
Walde followed on the hill and lasted one inning, allowing one hit and two walks. He left the game after suffering a shoulder injury. He will be evaluated this week.
Jones pitched the final 3.1 innings, holding Jefferson City to three hits. He struck out two batters.
Castillo posted three of Jefferson City’s six hits, including two doubles.
For Washington, Katzung had the only extra-base hit, a double. Kleekamp scored while running for him.
Eckelkamp, Leimkuehler, Jones and Luke Hasenjaeger recorded singles.
Helfrich scored the other run. Eckelkamp and Leimkuehler posted RBIs.
Leimkuehler, Jones, Borgerding, Kopmann and Helfrich drew walks.
Bollmann and Ben Huffman put down sacrifice bunts. Leimkuehler added a sacrifice fly.
Eckelkamp was hit by a pitch.
Gardner said a number of Post 218 players were up for MVP honors in the event.
“We had several kids that had a great tournament in Blue Springs,” Gardner said. “Grant Eckelkamp, Trent Leimkuehler and Tyler Tuepker all were outstanding and were up for MVP of the tournament.”
Eckelkamp posted a .428 average for the tournament. Gardner also lauded his defense.
Leimkuehler hit .565 for the tournament and earned a save with 2.2 innings of relief. Gardner also said his defense made a difference in center field.
Tuepker posted two complete-game victories, allowing two runs in the two games.
“Other players with solid tournaments were Luke Hasenjaeger (.368 batting average, one win), Jack Kopmann (.353), Sam Katzung (.333), Jared Walde (one win) and Brendan Feldmann (complete game shutout),” Gardner said.