Underdog St. Charles Post 312 was the last team standing in the winners’ bracket at the Senior Legion Zone 1 Tournament Saturday at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field, beating Washington 4-3.
The loss halted a 19-game winning streak for Post 218.
St. Charles (33-18), which was the third team from the Ninth District admitted to the zone event, scored all four of its runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to stun Post 218 (33-7) in the game.
The win allowed St. Charles to take the rest of the day off while waiting for Washington and Moberly to play in the losers’ bracket final. Many of the St. Charles players went to O’Fallon to participate in the Ninth District All-Star Game.
Washington had been cruising with a 3-0 lead heading into the eighth inning.
Starting pitcher Cody Gardner got one out in the inning, but ran into trouble after that.
Sam Chambers led off the inning with a single. Adam Ricks then grounded out to the mound with Chambers taking second on the play.
Connor Brett singled to center. Chambers held up at third putting runners on the corners.
Gardner struck out Michael Pundmann, but he reached base on a wild pitch. He would have been out other than the fact that Brett took second on a wild pitch before that.
Chambers scored on that play while Brett went to third.
Kyle Kramer then reached on an error with Brett scoring on that play.
Manager Mike Gardner made the move to Matt Jones and he induced Austin Olendorff to fly out to center for the second out.
Andrew Holtgreive then hit an infield single to second base. Pundmann came home with the tying run. Kramer rounded third a bit too far, but the throw to third to try to nab him there got away and he scored to put St. Charles ahead.
Holtgreive was thrown out stealing but the damage was done.
“This was really the first game that we gave away all year,” Mike Gardner said. “Cody pitched a great game and deserved to win the game, but our defense failed us at the worst time possible.”
Post 218 started the ninth with a walk by Dustin Howard and a single by Jack Kopmann.
But after a strikeout, St. Charles hurler Sam Melliere escaped the jam. Grant Eckelkamp lined a ball down the first base line, but right into the glove of Holtgreive. He dove to the base and tagged it a moment before Kopmann was able to return to record the game-ending double play.
So, in the matter of minutes, Washington went from being up 3-0 to falling into the losers’ bracket.
Post 218 had taken the lead on a run by Eckelkamp in the third. Trent Leimkuehler drove him home with a single.
Eckelkamp and Leimkuehler both scored on a Mike McGilvray double in the eighth as Post 218 opened up a three-run advantage.
Gardner had been solid through seven innings, but was hit with the loss. He went 7.1 innings, allowing four runs (one earned) on five hits, one walk and two wild pitches. He struck out five.
Jones closed out the game, going two-thirds of an inning while allowing one hit.
Melliere was the winner, throwing 125 pitches. He allowed three runs on 10 hits and one walk. He struck out four.
Washington had 10 hits and four errors in the game. St. Charles had six hits and one error. Washington stranded seven runners while St. Charles left six on base.
Eckelkamp paced the Washington offense with three hits. Leimkuehler and McGilvray each had two hits. McGilvray’s hits were doubles.
Dilan Bollmann, Jones and Kopmann had one hit apiece. Leimkuehler stole a base.
For St. Charles, Brett led the way with two hits. Chambers, Ricks, Holtgreive and Brandon Brett had one hit each.
With the loss, Washington had to return later in the evening to play in the losers’ bracket final.