While the Washington Post 218 Junior Legion team fell for just the second time in Ninth District play Tuesday, the team bounced back with a league road win Thursday.
Post 218 (21-4, 15-2) beat St. Charles Post 312 Thursday at Blanchette Park, 7-5, to start another winning streak.
“It was a good win that we had to have heading into a weekend doubleheader at Elsberry,” Post 218 Manager Phillip Kleekamp said.
Washington was scheduled to play Saturday against Eureka in Ellisville, but that game has been called off.
So, Washington will visit Elsberry for a Ninth District doubleheader Sunday starting at 3 p.m.
On Monday, Post 218 visits Sullivan for a 6 p.m. league game, the last action until next Thursday.
“The other coaches and I need to make sure the boys show up ready to go and play seven hard innings,” Kleekamp said. “With all of the success of our program over the years, we know that every team is gunning for us. We know that we are going to see the best every team has. We have to use that to motivate us and come out ready for a dogfight every game we play. This late in the season, it is just as much about your desire and mental toughness as it is about skill. The team with fewer mistakes will win the game most of the time. Our goal has always been to be regular season champions, and that is definitely within our reach. We need to improve our play and finish the season strong.”
Post 218 picked up a huge road win Thursday in St. Charles to bounce back from Tuesday’s home loss.
Grant Ruediger started for Washington, lasting 4.2 innings.
“Grant did not have his best game on the mound, but he was able to grind it out keeping us in the game,” Kleekamp said. “All the pitchers had to deal with an inconsistent strike zone, but Grant seemed to take the brunt of it. He was getting behind a lot of batters causing his pitch count to increase faster than we would have hoped.”
Tyler Straatmann followed, finishing out the fifth inning and lasting through the sixth.
Garrett Schoenfeld pitched the seventh, striking out three to earn a save.
“Garrett has really thrived coming out of the bullpen,” Kleekamp said. “He throws a lot of strikes mixing in a great curveball with a solid fastball. He definitely will be an asset in the district tournament.”
Kleekamp praised Peter Coulter and Todd Kleekamp for their offensive contributions.
“Pete Coulter and Todd Kleekamp both had great days at the plate and continue to be our leaders offensively,” Kleekamp said. “Pete has been on a tear as of late. It seems every other ball he hits is finding a gap right now. He added another two-RBI double last night. Todd was 2-4 with a double and an RBI.”
Teddy Harrison contributed three hits.
“Teddy Harrison also had a great game going 3-4 and reaching base every time he came to bat,” Kleekamp said.
“I thought we had a better game offensively than the score indicated,” said Kleekamp. “We were able to get back to the approach that has made us successful all year. Our hitters took a lot of quality at bats. I thought we did an especially good job of hitting when we had two strikes on us. The boys made adjustments and were able to put good swings on the ball even though they had gotten behind in the count. They really battled at the plate and made a lot of good things happen with two strikes.”
Washington’s winning streak came to a halt with a 5-4 Ninth District loss to St. Peters Tuesday at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field.
“We didn’t come out ready to play in the early innings, and it cost us the ballgame,” Kleekamp said. “You cannot have errors and mental mistakes against teams in the Ninth District. We have been able to limit our mistakes and battle back in the later innings to pick up wins. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case this time around against St. Peters.”
After Washington scored in the bottom of the third, St. Peters took the lead with two runs in the fourth. Post 218 responded with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. St. Peters scored three times in the sixth and Washington closed the gap with a run in the bottom of that frame, but could not catch up.
Washington outhit St. Peters, 7-5, but committed five errors to one for St. Peters.
“Offensively, we just couldn’t get a sustained rally going,” Kleekamp said. “We were able to pick a few runs here and there, but we left ten runners on base. You cannot leave that many runners on base and expect to be successful. We have gotten away with many slow starts so far this season because our bats have bailed us out late in games. We had some big hits tonight, but none of them came when we needed them. Hopefully, we can learn from tonight’s loss.”
Kleekamp led Post 218 with three hits. Coulter added two and Ross Seitter and Harrison had one hit apiece.
Kleekamp had the only extra-base hit, a triple.
Seitter scored twice while Kleekamp and Sam Katzung each scored once.
Coulter drove in two runs and Kleekamp had one RBI.
Katzung stole a base.
Kevin Birk walked twice while Aaron Meyer and Straatmann each walked once.
“St. Peters’ pitcher deserves some credit as well,” Kleekamp said. “He kept our hitters guessing somewhat and was able to pick up the complete-game victory.”
Anthony Chance took the loss, going six innings while allowing five runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks. He struck out eight.
“We received another quality start from Anthony Chance,” Kleekamp said. “Anthony came out on fire striking out the first three batters he saw on only nine pitches. St. Peters did a good job of making adjustments and putting the ball in play. They were able to put some runners on with the help of some of our mistakes and took advantage of opportunities to pick up the win.”
Schoenfeld pitched the final inning, striking out one batter.