SEDALIA — Brendan Feldmann didn’t know if he would get a chance to pitch in the Missouri Senior Legion State Tournament.
But the Washington Post 218 hurler came through in the winner-take-all game Saturday to lift Washington to the state title by virtue of a 9-1 win over Creve Coeur Post 397.
“I didn’t think it was going to come down to me because we have such great pitching, hitting and defense, but that’s the way baseball goes,” Feldmann said. “You never know what will happen. I’m glad the way it ended. We won.”
Through nine innings, Feldmann used 111 pitches while allowing one run on six hits and two walks. He struck out four.
We put it all together and really played a great game to win the state championship,” said Post 218 Manager Mike Gardner. “Brendan Feldmann was able to stay focused and in the moment to pitch an outstanding game.”
Winner Take All
Post 218 (39-8) needed Feldmann’s effort after Creve Coeur forced a second title game with an 8-1 victory in the first contest Saturday.
While Washington struggled in that first title contest, the Post 218 players were able to put the mistakes behind them.
“You need trust,” Feldmann said. “You can’t go out there and be scared with what your defense is going to do behind you. We had a lot of ground balls and flyouts. It was awesome. I wanted to be aggressive, throw strikes and the defense worked behind me.”
McGilvray’s Big Hit
Everyone on the Washington roster wanted to make up for how badly the first game went for the team.
One of those players was Mike McGilvray, who belted the key three-run home run over the right field fence in the top of the fifth inning to increase Washington’s lead to 4-0 and give the team some breathing room.
“I just wanted a base hit, honestly,” McGilvray said. “That’s all I was thinking. I knew I had to stay back and that’s what I did. I got the pitch I needed and got one out.”
McGilvray said that once he saw the ball fly over the fence, he knew it was a big moment for the team.
“Of course it was an exciting feeling,” McGilvray said. “I just wanted to make sure I touched all of the bases. After that, it jump started our team. I was thankful to God that I had a nice at-bat like that.”
Gardner said that was a key moment in the game.
“I think that the three-run home run by Mike McGilvray really gave us the momentum we needed to cruise to the victory,” Gardner said.
That three-run shot came after Washington opened scoring in the top of the fourth. Sam Deschenes flied around from second on a Jack Kopmann single and dove home.
The McGilvray home run seemed to break the tension of the one-run lead. Washington added one run in the sixth on a Grant Eckelkamp bunt which scored Kopmann.
Post 218 broke through for four more runs in the top of the seventh.
Trent Leimkuehler led off with a single and McGilvray followed up with a double. With one out, Dustin Howard struck out, but a dropped third strike forced a throw to first. Leimkuehler scored and McGilvray went to third.
Deschenes singled home McGilvray. Deschenes scored on a single by Kopmann and Kopmann came home on a hit by Noah Borgerding.
Creve Coeur scored its lone run in the eighth with Matt Tarman scoring on a groundout to first base
Post 218 had 15 hits in the game.
Jack Kopmann led the way with four hits.
“I was confident we were going to win the whole time,” Kopmann said. “The first game didn’t go our way. I knew we were good and we easily could beat them. They put up a good game. Baseball’s a crazy game. We didn’t get the right bounces in the first game. We did in the second game and that made it a lot easier.”
McGilvray, Eckelkamp, Dilan Bollmann and Borgerding each had two hits.
Leimkuehler, Matt Jones and Deschenes posted one hit each.
Leimkuehler, McGilvray, Deschenes and Kopmann each posted two runs. Eckelkamp scored once.
McGilvray drove in three. Kopmann had two RBIs while Eckelkamp, Howard, Deschenes and Borgerding each had one RBI.
Eckelkamp added a sacrifice and a stolen base. Deschenes and Leimkuehler also stole bases. Eckelkamp, Bollmann and Deschenes walked.
Keith Coulson took the loss, going four innings while allowing one run on four hits and three walks. He struck out four.
Jonathan Brand recorded one out, allowing three runs on three hits.
Brian Hillhouse went 2.1 innings. He allowed five runs on six hits while striking out one.
Lucas Mueller pitched the last 2.1 innings. He gave up two hits and struck out one.
Jordan Goldenberg and Kyle Downey each had two hits for Creve Coeur. Eddie Bargmann and Tarman posted one hit each.
Washington enjoyed numerical superiority in the stands and the fans let their voices be heard in the second game.
“There are a couple of moments that I will remember most from this year,” Gardner said. “One of them will be from the zone championship game when our A (Freshman) team was going by on their float and chanting 218 so loud that we could hear them all the way from High Street. The second was the number of fans we had compared to Creve Coeur at the finals game and how loud they were with their support. I think it really meant a lot in the first few innings of the final game to have that support.”
Another key factor was forgetting the fiasco which passed for the first game. The coaches and players talked between games and came back as if the first contest never happened, settling down to play standout ball.
“We just needed to be ourselves,” McGilvray said. “We knew we were much better than the way we played. We knew we needed to hit the ball and play good defense.”
“We were hoping to win the first one, but things just didn’t go our way,” Eckelkamp said. “We made quite a few errors. We just had to refocus and play our game.”
Matt Jones said the team changed its focus.
“We talked about forgetting it because it was over,” Jones said. “We talked about going out and getting this time because we knew we were better and we know we can beat them. That’s what we did. We had a slow start, but McGilvray’s home run opened it wide open and we scored runs from there.”
Leimkuehler credited Gardner.
“In the first game, I thought we beat ourselves up,” Leimkuehler said. “We had a lot of errors and we looked like we were dead. Coach said that we need to take one pitch at a time. We were a little tense in the first game. In the second game, we were having a lot more fun, cheering a little bit and we finally relaxed.”
Gardner said it was a total team effort.
“Our leaders on the team did a really good job of stepping up and getting everyone in the right frame of mind,” Gardner said. “I really thought that Cody (Gardner) reacted really well to the situation by not feeling sorry for himself and being the most vocal player on the bench in the final game.”
Gardner, who along with Leimkuehler, played in all three consecutive state tournament appearances, said the team stepped up.
“It’s definitely a lot better feeling, especially after that first game,” Cody said. “We played the worst game hopefully we’re going to play all year. We followed with probably one of the best games we’ve played all year. It’s just a great feeling.”
McGilvray summed up the team’s feeling following the game.
“We feel like champions,” McGilvray said. “I don’t even know what to do right now.”