Pacific Post 320 took advantage of its opportunities against Central in the Ninth District Junior Legion Tournament Monday at Pacific Youth Association.
Second-seeded Pacific drew 15 walks and collected six hits in a 17-4 victory in five innings over 10th-seeded Central.
“We did what we had to do,” said Post 320 Manager Cory Cowsert. “We didn’t hit the ball like we can. Yes, we scored 17 runs, but they walked a lot of guys. We had a couple of timely hits, and that was big for us. We needed those hits at the time.”
Pacific (25-3) advances to the winner’s bracket semifinals, where they will host sixth-seeded Elsberry Wednesday at 6 p.m. Elsberry defeated third-seeded West Monday night, 5-4.
Pacific and Elsberry have split two games this season. After winning at Elsberry early in the season, Post 320 lost at home to Elsberry July 1 in nine innings, 5-4.
“The next game is a big one. We want to stay in the winner’s bracket and be at our best if and when we run into Washington. This is baseball, so anything can happen,” Cowsert said. “I hope the guys learned a lesson when we lost to Elsberry. That’s a team I thought we should have beaten. We seemed to be on cruise control in that game because we had already beaten them and we were kind of on a roll. We have to come to the park ready to play.”
Pacific will advance to the Zone 1 Tournament July 18-21 at Ronsick Field in Washington by winning the district tournament or by Washington winning the tournament.
The Ninth District regular season champion and tournament champion both advance to zone. If the regular season champion (Washington) also wins the tournament, the second-place team from the regular season also advances.
Pacific took control of the game with eight runs in the bottom of the first inning. Post 320 had three hits and drew seven walks in the opening frame.
In the second inning, Post 320 made the score 12-0 with four runs.
Central scored all four of its runs in the top of the third inning to make the score 12-4.
Pacific added five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to increase its advantage to 17-4.
Allen Fitzgerald pitched all five innings for Post 320. He allowed four earned runs on six hits with three walks, one hit batter and six strikeouts.
“Allen threw the ball OK. I wouldn’t say he threw it great. He definitely didn’t have his best stuff,” Cowsert said. “He grinded it out and finished the game strong.”
All nine players in Pacific’s starting lineup reached base at least twice.
Leading the charge was Brendan McMillan, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup. He finished with two hits (a two-run double and a two-run triple), one walk, five RBIs and three runs scored.
“All nine of the guys we had in the lineup tonight can definitely hit the ball,” Cowsert said. “Our No. 9 hitter had two hits and five RBIs. It just goes to show what else we have in the lineup ahead of him.”
Ryan Howell collected two hits (one double), four RBIs and one run. He was the only Pacific player not to draw a walk.
Ryan Vogelgesang registered one hit, two walks, two RBIs and two runs.
Alex Rice added one hit (double), one walk, two RBIs and two runs. He also reached on an error.
Tyler Gerling finished with three walks, one RBI and three runs.
Drew Fonner walked three times and scored three runs.
Noah Brocato and Fitzgerald both walked twice and scored a run.
Tyler Straatmann had one walk, one RBI and one run.
“We won the game and advanced in the tournament, so that’s good. When we start playing the better teams like Washington, West and Elsberry, we’re not going to win playing like we did tonight,” Cowsert said. “In close games, it takes things like bunting and moving runners over. Those are the little things that are going to beat the better teams.”
Cowsert said Brocato will be Pacific’s starting pitcher against Elsberry.
“Our pitching is lined up really good for the rest of the tournament. We’ll have Brocato on the bump Wednesday ready to go. Hopefully we can go out there and fill it up,” Cowsert said. “We still have Howell, Straatmann and (Ryan) Ray ready to go, so we’re in good shape with our pitching.”