Making five errors, the Washington Post 218 Juniors made sure St. Charles had every chance to take an upset out of Monday’s Ninth District Junior Legion Tournament game.
“We preach to the boys to not look past anybody,” said Post 218 Manager Phillip Kleekamp. “St. Charles did a good job tonight but we definitely didn’t help our cause as much as we should have. The biggest thing we can take away is that Evan Ayers did a great job. Hopefully this is a learning point to get us focused in on the tournament.”
Ayers controlled action from the mound as top-seeded Post 218 (23-2) advanced in the winners’ bracket of the 10-team double-elimination tournament.
“It was a little tighter than we had hoped,” Kleekamp said. “We haven’t played in about eight or nine days and it really showed. Our defense, which had been one of our biggest strengths the last week or two of the season, took the night off a little bit. Evan Ayers pitched a phenomenal ballgame. He got more ground balls than we could ever ask for and we didn’t make a whole lot of plays behind him. We were really lucky to squeak one out.
Washington remains at home Wednesday, hosting fifth-seeded O’Fallon in a 6 p.m. game at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field.
“It’s good to get out and get some field work,” Kleekamp said. “We had two or three practices, but there’s nothing like being in a game. We get a day off and we’ll get back after it on Wednesday.”
Perhaps the most surprising result from Monday night’s action was third-seeded West falling to sixth-seeded Elsberry at Westhoff Park, 5-4.
Elsberry has started to peak at the end of the season and recently defeated second-seeded Pacific as well. Those two teams will meet in the other winners’ bracket semifinal Wednesday in Pacific.
Pacific had the easiest time Monday, ripping Central by a 17-4 score Monday.
O’Fallon advanced to face Washington with an 8-3 win over fourth-seeded St. Peters Monday.
Losers’ bracket action begins Tuesday with St. Charles facing New Haven and the winner advancing to meet St. Peters at Westhoff Park Field 4.
In the other three-team pod, Wentzville takes on Central with the winner getting West at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field.
Ayers dominated St. Charles, going the distance while allowing two unearned runs on three hits and two walks. He struck out four while dealing grounder after grounder.
Unfortunately for Ayers, the left side of Washington’s infield made five errors, which made the game much closer than Washington fans would have liked to have seen it.
Post 218 had initial success against St. Charles pitcher Tyler Renaud, scoring once in the first and twice in the second.
Renaud went the distance while allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits and three walks. He struck out three.
Post 312 scored its two runs in the top of the fourth, but Washington added a huge insurance run in the bottom of that frame to keep the gap at two runs.
Offensively, Post 218 managed four hits with two of them being for extra bases. John Himmelberg tripled and Ryan Becszlko doubled in the game.
Ross Seitter and Spencer Juergens hit singles in the game.
Seth Bollmann, Juergens, Becszlko and Kyle Summers scored the Washington runs. Aaron Meyer, Justin Baylard and Himmelberg drove in runs.
Bollmann, Meyer and Justin Baylard drew walks.
Baylard added a sacrifice fly while Bollmann, Seitter and Summers stole bases.
Washington’s first run came after Bollmann walked and Seitter reached on an infield single. Meyer grounded out to bring in Bollmann.
In the second, Juergens started the inning with a single and Becszlko followed with a double.
Baylard’s sacrifice fly scored Juergens and Becszlko came home on a balk.
With one out in the fourth, St. Charles took advantage of back-to-back errors to put runners on base.
Renaud scored on a groundout and the second run came home on the inning’s third error.
Washington’s final run came on a two-out rally. Summers reached base on an error and came home on Himmelberg’s triple.