For four innings, it looked like the Union Post 297 Juniors would break their hex against Elsberry Post 226.
But the Ninth District regular season champion ended Union’s season in the Ninth District Tournament losers’ bracket Friday at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field, 6-3.
Union finished the season with a 33-9 record with three of those losses coming at the hands of Elsberry this season.
“It was a tough loss but we gave it our all,” Post 297 Manager Ryan Bailey said. “Coming out of the losers’ bracket is tough and it caught up with us tonight.”
Even with the loss and fourth-place finish in the district tournament, Bailey said it was a successful season.
“You never want to be out of the tournament but these 18 kids should keep their heads high because they had a great season,” Bailey said.
In Friday’s game, Elsberry scored in the bottom of the first inning, but Union rallied to take the lead with three runs in the top of the third.
Pitcher Drew Reed led off by being hit by a pitch. He then came all the way around on a triple by Dillon Breeden.
Breeden also scored on an error during that play to make it 2-1.
The rally wasn’t over. Dawson Sickmeier drew a walk on a full count and then stole second base. He went to third when Blake Pickard reached on an error. Nick Eads grounded out to bring home the run.
That proved to be the high-water mark for Union. Post 297 managed just three base runners after that point.
“When we took the lead, 3-1 in the middle of the game, I thought we would keep hitting and add to the lead but our bats cooled and they came right back to tie it up and then go ahead,” Bailey said.
Meanwhile, Elsberry fought back to tie it in the bottom of the fourth and won it with three runs in the fifth.
The big blow was a two-run triple by Zach Richardson. He had two hits in the game, both going for extra bases. He doubled and scored in the first and reached on an error in the third.
Richardson scored on a passed ball for the final run.
Union’s pitching was handled by three players.
Reed got the start and went four innings, allowing six runs (two earned) on three hits and a walk. He struck out three.
Chris Griffin went an inning, striking out one batter.
Kendall Sheler pitched the sixth inning, walking one.
Offensively, Union had four hits in the game with Breeden picking up two of them. He tripled, scored and drove in a run.
Nick Kretzler and Reed had the other hits. Reed also scored and was hit by a pitch.
Sickmeier walked, stole a base and scored. Eads drove in a run.
Jerod Mattingly stole two bases while Pickard had one swipe.
Sheler drew a walk.
For Elsberry, Brandon Bennett went the distance for the win. He allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks. He struck out 11.
Besides Richardson, Joshua Derrington had one hit.
Neither team had a lot to work with offensively. Union stranded three runs and Elsberry left two on base.
Union made four errors to one for Post 226.