It’s been feast or famine this season for area American Legion baseball fans.
For fans of Washington Post 218 and Union Post 297, it has been a good year.
For fans of Pacific Post 320, Sullivan Post 18 and New Haven Post 366, fortunes haven’t been as great.
Washington has a combined three-team record of 76-24 this season. That’s phenomenal.
• The Seniors are 25-10 and likely will have the third seed for the Ninth District Tournament starting later this week. Washington just won its pool at the Blue Springs Wood Bat Tournament and reached the quarterfinals.
• The Juniors (25-4) won the Ninth District Tournament and host the Zone 1 Tournament starting Thursday at Borgia. That team won one of the most exciting games in some time Friday, rallying from a four-run deficit in the bottom of the 10th to win over St. Peters, 12-11. St. Peters hit nine doubles in the game. When’s the last time anyone heard of a team hitting nine doubles losing?
• The Freshmen are 26-10 entering this week’s state tournament, starting Wednesday, at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field. Washington finished as the Ninth District runner-up to an exceptional St. Charles Post 312 team. Washington did stop the undefeated season for Post 312 though. Both teams are here for the state tournament.
One thing I did hear in Elsberry is that the fans of both Washington and St. Charles are looking forward to being able to root for the other team. They’re on opposite sides of the bracket, so that’s possible for a while.
Fans can watch all three teams in action with the Juniors and Freshmen here in Washington and the Seniors at the district event at Westhoff Park in O’Fallon and the St. Peters Rec-Plex. Manager Mike Gardner said the bracket won’t be ready until Wednesday.
All three Post 218 teams seem to be peaking at the right time. I like the chances of the Junior team to win three-team zone. We know nothing about Chillicothe and Elsberry is a very solid squad.
The Freshmen should make a deep run into the state tournament. The Ninth District historically has had some of the best Freshman Legion baseball in the state.
And, the Seniors have a shot at reaching the zone tournament level. Just as West was the team to beat early in the season, Daniel Boone has emerged from the shadows of the Francis Howell state runner-up run to become the best team in the later part of the season. Scott Horace’s squad should be peaking. Two years ago, it was the runner-up in the Junior Legion state tournament. Borgia’s Justin Horace is on that squad.
The season might be over in Union, but Post 297 had a triumphant return to Legion ball this summer, going 33-9 at the Junior level. Union had the misfortune to play in the toughest division of Ninth District this season and placed fourth.
I really like what Ryan Bailey was able to accomplish with this team. I also like the fact that the Union kids gave the program a chance and they enjoyed an amazing season because of it. Now, Union needs to work to perpetuate that success next season. It’s possible there could be two Union teams with some players being too old to play Junior ball, or the whole program could make the move to Senior play.
Union wants to avoid the problems Pacific Post 320 has had this season. I give Pacific a ton of credit for trying to have three teams drawing mainly from one school. It’s been a rough season. The Seniors look to qualify for the district tournament, probably as the eighth seed.
Remember, this year’s Union was last year’s Pacific Juniors team.
I believe Cory Cowsert is a good manager, but if you’re drawing from one school, you’ve got to have everyone from that school to make things successful.
That’s the example the Sullivan Post 18 teams have set. It’s likely they’ll finish out of the playoffs in all three levels this year. If Sullivan had all of its high school players, it would be a certain contender. But Post 18 struggles to get the players. In the old days, the great Sullivan teams also borrowed from Bourbon, Cuba and Steelville. That’s the course that program will have to go through to find success again.
So, why don’t the teams get the players? Many of them prefer to play for traveling clubs, who can offer more individual training and the ability to put the players in front of scouts. The lure of a college scholarship and professional training wins out a lot of the time now. All of the traditional summer teams have suffered from losing players to the clubs.
New Haven Post 366 missed out by one win in the Freshman division and just made the Junior playoffs, but seemed to have an enjoyable season. The Juniors were dangerous in many games. From the little I saw of that organization this year, I believe it was a positive experience which will help the players in the future.