Playing for pride and the chance to add hardware, the Washington Post 218 Senior Legion team opened Ninth District Tournament play Thursday with an 8-3 win over Daniel Boone at Westhoff Park in O’Fallon.
Post 218 (31-6) next plays Friday at 6 p.m. against Elsberry in the winners’ bracket semifinal.
No matter what happens in the district tournament, Washington already knows it will be playing next Thursday in Moberly at 8 p.m.
As the Ninth District regular season winner, Post 218 already has been assured a spot in the Zone 1 Tournament. The first-round matchup is against the Ninth District Tournament champion. Should Washington also win the district tournament, West would advance as the second team from the district by virtue of finishing second in the regular season standings.
“We’re not going to overthrow anybody knowing we’re already in the Zone Tournament,” Post 218 Manager Mike Gardner said. “We’re setting it up so we have Brendan Feldmann and Tyler Tuepker for the final two games. We’re going to play every game to win, but we’re not going to use up all of our pitching.”
While Washington won its opening game in the district tournament Thursday, Gardner feels the team could do better.
“I think we were a little flat from Blue Springs,” Gardner said. “It was a little disappointing to lose in that tournament championship game. We know we’re already in the zone and we came out flat. It looks like that’s how we played. But it’s a win, and at this time of the year, a win’s a win.”
Post 218, which beat Daniel Boone twice during the regular season, needed a bit to get going.
Washington started the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Noah Borgerding’s bases-loaded single plated two of those runs.
Daniel Boone responded with two runs in the top of the fifth, but Washington added an insurance run in the bottom of that frame and scored four times in the seventh.
Again, a bases-loaded single by Borgerding plated two runs.
“We actually worked Tuesday night in practice on situations with runners in scoring position and less than two outs,” Gardner said. “We want to make sure we get our pitch to hit. If we get behind in the count and the defense is playing back up the middle, then go ahead and hit that outside curve to second base and get a run in.”
Daniel Boone added another run in the top of the ninth.
Luke Hasenjaeger was the winning pitcher for Washington. He went 6.1 innings while allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and four walks. He struck out three Daniel Boone batters.
“I thought Luke threw really well,” Gardner said. “Any time you can get six-plus innings out of your starter and allow two runs, that’s a quality start and we’ll take that any time. If we don’t make the errors, he probably could have pitched another inning. It was a good start for Luke.”
Tyler Murray took over and pitched the final 2.2 innings. He allowed one unearned run on four hits and one walk.
Offensively, Trent Leimkuehler paced Washington’s attack with four hits, including a triple. He scored three runs.
Borgerding’s two singles drove home four runs. He also scored.
Recording singles were Grant Eckelkamp, Dilan Bollmann, Tony Helfrich and Sam Katzung.
Eckelkamp also walked. Bollmann scored twice, drove in one and walked. Helfrich and Katzung also walked.
Jack Kopmann sacrificed and drove in two runs. He added a walk.
Matt Jones walked three times and scored a run.
Ben Huffman walked and scored a run.
Alex Schoenherr started for Daniel Boone and went three innings before leaving. He allowed three walks and struck out three.
Tanner Kulpa took the loss. He threw 3.2 innings while allowing eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits and six walks. He struck out three.
Josiah Longenecker pitched 1.1 innings, allowing one hit and striking out one.
Offensively, Brendan Trimble and Kelly Faron each had two hits in the game.
Trimble also walked and drove in a run while Faron scored.
Austin Forney, Longenecker, Kulpa and Hunter Hindman had the other Daniel Boone hits.