It would take a book to properly describe the events of Thursday’s Junior Legion Zone 1 Tournament opener between Washington Post 218 and Daniel Boone Post 262.
The simple fact that when the final out was recorded, Daniel Boone won the game, 14-12.
But the game was anything but simple. In fact, odd, unique and unusual would be better terms to describe the action on and off the field.
Briefly, the craziness included: runs and outs being taken off the scoreboard on an upheld protest; rallies and more rallies; and offense of an unseen variety in past games between the two teams.
“It’s really rare that you ever see runs taken off the scoreboard, but it worked out and I’m glad we ended up getting it right in the end,” said Post 262 Manager Scott Horace.
“We definitely have our work cut out for us now,” said Post 218 Manager Phillip Kleekamp. “It was a tough ballgame. It was mentally and physically draining on everybody, coaches included. There were some things I’ve never even seen in a ballgame.”
Here are the facts. With the win, Daniel Boone advanced to the winners’ bracket championship game Friday at noon against Hannibal Post 55.
“We’re in a good spot,” Horace said. “We’ve got a lot of work still to do. We’ve got to take them one at a time. It’s just one more game and we’ve got to go out and win it so we can maintain our position.”
Washington plays Friday at 2:30 p.m. against the Chillicothe Post 25 Cardinals.
“We’re going to have to work our way back through the losers’ bracket,” Kleekamp said. “The good thing is that it’s only a four-team tournament, so we only have to win two games to catch up.”
The loser of the noon game and the winner of the 2:30 p.m. play each other at 5 p.m.
The championship series is set to start at noon Saturday.
The eighth meeting between Ninth District rivals Washington and Daniel Boone again was a close contest between the two teams, but this one featured the type of offense unseen in most of the meetings.
“At this point, we’ve played each other so many times that each team has seen all of the pitching the other team has to offer,” Kleekamp said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t that classic Ninth District wood bat game we’ve seen this season.”
The teams started pitchers who have had success against the other team this season. Hunter Murphy, who was the winner in the Ninth District Tournament winners’ bracket championship game, started for Daniel Boone. Kleekamp handed the ball to lefty Anthony Chance, who had limited Daniel Boone in his past starts.
Neither pitcher made it past the fourth inning.
Murphy was the first to leave, being pulled with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning.
But that’s where things got interesting.
On the second visit to the mound, the Daniel Boone representative did not visit umpire Tom Swoboda first, so that the proposed change of switching Murphy and first baseman Brendan Trimble was not legal. Washington contended that because of a clause in the rulebook, Murphy (also the cleanup hitter in the lineup) had to leave the game.
Daniel Boone contended they still could make the switch, but with the second visit that Murphy had to stop pitching.
The debate moved along to Site Administrator Tom Schroeder, who ruled for Washington, but accepted a protest from Daniel Boone. A call was placed to Gary Stone, state commissioner, as well.
Washington led 11-6 after the end of the inning and was cruising in the top of the third when the coaches were called back for the ruling.
Stone had pointed out an exception to the rulebook validating Daniel Boone’s claim. Thus, the game was reset to the point of the protest with bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the second. Murphy was allowed to play first base and anything taking place beyond that, including substitutions, was voided.
“I was glad Tom made the call,” Horace said. “It worked out for us.”
Kleekamp said the whole deal was different.
“It was a weird deal,” Kleekamp said. “It obviously was something I’ve never seen. We’ve been playing a certain way the whole season and apparently, there’s an addendum to the rulebook specifically for postseason play. Coach (Kent) Getsee and I have been doing this for a long time and this is the first time we’ve seen this.”
After the game, Schroeder commented that the only other option was to continue playing, but if Daniel Boone lost, the game would have had to be replayed, using more pitching and forcing the teams to compete in the heat for seven more innings.
In the new second inning, Daniel Boone recorded the third out on the next batter and Washington left the bases jammed. So, what had been an 11-6 lead before, was just a 9-6 lead.
“This is one of those deals where we have to be mentally tough and come back out,” Kleekamp said. “We still ended up putting up a handful of runs that inning. But, it knocked the wind out of our sails when we were getting ready to go for the throat. It knocked us back a bit. I think we lost a bit when we had to come back onto the field.”
And Daniel Boone erased that with four runs in the new third inning to take a 10-9 advantage.
“We got the out right away,” Horace said. “Then, it’s like you get a second chance. It’s like when someone drops a pop-up. When you get that second chance, you get the hit. When we went out there, we got the out we needed to end the inning. It’s a different game when you’re down by three versus being down by five.”
The lead stayed that way until the bottom of the fifth, when Post 218 added three more runs to go ahead, 12-10.
But Daniel Boone sealed the game in the top of the sixth with four runs.
Justin Horace led off with a walk against Post 218 reliever Justin Schuler.
Tanner Kulpa lined a single to center field. Hunter Hindman followed with a liner to right field which got past Washington’s fielder, scoring Horace and sending the runners to second and third.
With one out, ninth-place hitter Dan Speckert put down a squeeze bunt near the mound. Schuler caught a spike and tumbled to the ground. Kulpa scored the tying run and all other runners were safe.
“They really worked the squeeze well,” Kleekamp said. “There were a couple of fluke plays as well. They executed. You’ve just got to tip your cap to them and learn from it. Hopefully the next time we’re put in that situation, we’ll make the play.”
Austin Forney then popped up a bunt between the mound and second base position. Playing back, the move caught Post 218 by surprise and the ball dropped to the turf. Forney beat it out and Hindman scurried home to make it 13-12.
Speckert, who went to third on an error, gave Daniel Boone an insurance run, scoring on a groundout by Brian Land. Washington escaped without further damage, but that was enough.
“We’re going to make people make plays,” Horace said. “That’s the thing. Washington normally does make plays. We talked that the team making the least amount of mistakes is going to win the ballgame. If we’re trying to force people to make mistakes, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to push it. We’re going to be aggressive with getting the ball, making contact and making the other team make plays.”
Josiah Longenecker set down Post 218 in order over the final two innings to seal the victory.
Longenecker, Daniel Boone’s third pitcher in the game, went five innings while allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and two walks. He struck out one.
Schuler suffered the loss, going three innings while allowing four unearned runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out four.
Murphy’s modified official line was 1.2 innings pitched with nine runs (seven earned) on five hits, five walks, one hit batter and two wild pitches. He struck out two.
Trimble pitched one-third of an inning, facing one batter.
Chance’s modified official line was four innings pitched with 10 runs allowed (six earned) on seven hits, four walks, one hit batter, one wild pitch and one balk. He struck out one.
For Daniel Boone, Forney led the way with four hits, one run and one RBI.
Trimble had three hits, two runs and five RBIs. Speckert ended with two hits, two runs and an RBI.
Post 262 batters with one hit each were Land, Kulpa, Hindman and Longenecker.
Horace, Kulpa, Kelly Faron and Longenecker added runs. Murphy and Horace drove in runs.
For Washington, Ross Seitter and David McNeal each had two hits.
Seitter scored three runs. McNeal scored twice and drove in three.
Todd Kleekamp, Sam Katzung, Aaron Meyer and Peter Coulter each had one hit.
Kleekamp, Kevin Birk and Meyer scored twice. Katzung scored once.
Meyer drove in three runs. Katzung and Coulter each drove in one.
McNeal doubled twice. Trimble and Meyer tripled.
Each team committed four errors.
“I thought we hit well and we took good at-bats,” Kleekamp said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have our best game in the field and I think that was a difference in the ballgame.”
Daniel Boone stranded eight runners while Washington left six in scoring position.