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Battleline: Win or Go Home for Legion

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Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 9:00 am

Now, the baseball season is really starting to get interesting for our remaining local teams.

We have two Washington Post 218 teams remaining alive in competition with the Juniors going to Joplin for the state tournament this week and the Seniors heading to Moberly for the Zone 1 Tournament.

Both have the chance to extend the season beyond this level if they can win their respective tournaments. The Junior Regional Tournament also takes place in Joplin, with Carthage hosting, and the Senior Legion State Tournament will take place in Sedalia once again.

Add in there the Ninth District all-star games at the Freshman and Junior levels, set to run at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field.

I really like how the Post 218 Junior Legion team approaches the game. Washington was able to win the Zone 1 Tournament in three games, using just three pitchers.

While Washington wasn’t overwhelmingly dominant in any of the games, Post 218 did what it had to do to win and executed in close game situations.

And the Juniors were able to make the transition from wood to metal bats without too much trouble. More on that later.

The Post 218 Junior Legion coaching contingent features a blend of experience and youth. Phillip Kleekamp has been a part of the Post 218 coaching setup for quite some time. Kent Getsee managed the last Post 218 Junior Legion team to win a state (and regional) title. Cody Gardner pitched for Post 218 last season and has stayed in the program as a coach.

Right now, the Juniors probably have the best chance of any Post 218 team to add to the program’s list of honors.

I felt the Zone 1 Tournament was very competitive. Going in, I felt Pacific had a strong chance of making it to the title game. And Post 320 came close. I believe Cory Cowsert and Chris Jackson did an amazing job with their team this season. Pacific certainly was a fun group to watch play the game.

Jefferson City Post 5 was no pushover either. They played some very good baseball when it was required. They came close to keeping everyone around for a second championship game Sunday. They didn’t give up after a five-run Washington first and Cody Stegeman just got better and better after a 46-pitch first inning. Washington showed skill and poise in holding on to beat that team.

The Washington Post 218 Seniors could extend their consecutive appearance run at the state tournament, but it’s going to take a better effort than we’ve seen lately.

Washington just hasn’t seemed to be crisp lately. In fact, Post 218 hasn’t seemed to play a strong game since the semifinals of the Blue Springs Wood Bat Tournament.

Post 218 has to open play at the Zone 1 Tournament Thursday in Moberly against West, a team it’s lost to twice this past week. Frankly, West is the better team right now and Post 218 should be considered the underdog.

“This was a game that I wish we would have never played because the game really did not mean anything as both teams were moving onto the zone tournament and the game would not affect the zone seeding,” Post 218 Manager Mike Gardner said about Sunday’s Ninth District championship game against West. “We didn’t play with much enthusiasm and West played and acted like it was the seventh game of the World Series. We will move on, work hard in practice, be prepared, and fully committed for our game against them in the Zone Tournament on Thursday.”

It’s not going to be simple though. Post 218 is not going to be able to just go through the motions and expect other teams to crumble at their reputation. It’s going to be hard work to make the season last past the Zone Tournament.

“We have had to fight through a few issues this year and I think that is a good thing,” Gardner said. “I don’t feel like we are complacent or just happy being here and that we have something to prove to everybody. I am confident that we will all pull together, come ready to play every pitch with a passion, and do whatever it takes for us to be successful.”

An added wildcard in the upcoming contest will be metal bats. It’s going to be the first time Post 218 has used the BBCOR bats in quite some time because the Ninth District uses wood bats.

Winning in the first game will be huge for one Ninth District team. The other one will have to fight through the losers’ bracket just to get back.

This zone has no pushovers. Jefferson City Post 5 has to be one of the favorites. They’ve played tough all season long and they beat Washington at the Blue Springs Wood Bat Tournament. West has momentum, Moberly is the host team and Hannibal just came through a tournament to earn its spot.

And, we all remember that tournaments in Moberly have not been kind to Post 218. Washington lost to Macon in the winner-take-all game the last time it played a zone there.

I know Gardner and his staff can get the most out of the team. If they perform to their abilities, a return trip to the state tournament in Sedalia is possible.

Kudos to Jordan Bierbaum and his Post 218 Freshman Legion team. They made a miraculous run through the losers’ bracket of the Ninth District Tournament to celebrate a double of regular season and tournament titles.

Washington fell out in three games at the state tournament after beating host Branson in the opening game. A tournament-changing moment came when Nik Alferman was knocked out with a thrown ball on the bases in the second round against Jackson. That had to shake the team.

Jackson, the last unbeaten team in the tournament, and Glendale, were the only squads to beat Washington and those teams finished highly in the event. Branson came back from its opening-round loss to reach the final four.

Considering the team only had two players back from last year’s state championship team, it was a great year for the Post 218 squad.

OK, now back to the wood versus metal bat discussion.

Kleekamp seems to feel the biggest change between the two bats is in fielding because the ball seems to jump a bit more off the metal bats.

“I was always taught that if you can hit with wood, you can hit with metal,” Kleekamp said. “Hopefully that works for them, too.”

I’ll add in another factor. I think pitchers really see a difference between the two. Pitchers seem to be able to get away with more mistakes against wood bats than metal bats, and that can lead to making more mistakes. Hang a curve against a batter with a wood bat and it’s still just a long fly ball. Hang that same curve against a metal bat hitter and it’s going over the fence.

It seems tougher to play small ball with metal bats, although the good teams still can get the bunts down. It’s almost like comparing National League strategies against American League strategies. The NL always seemed to be moving runners along, stealing bases and being aggressive on the base paths. The AL strategy seemed to wait for the three-run home run.

•••

Condolences to the family and friends of Dominic Gentile. The Warrenton High School graduate recently passed away.

Frank Gentile was athletic director at Warrenton when we started covering sports for what was the Marthasville (now Warren County) Record. He left Warrenton for Holt and still does work for MSHSAA, especially at the state wrestling meet.

I can remember when Dominic signed to play football at Central Missouri. My impression is he was a nice young man from a good family.

/sports

Area Scoreboard

Area Sports Schedule

American Legion Baseball

Senior Legion

Tuesday, July 1

*Daniel Boone 14, Pacific 3

*Washington 20, Sullivan 5

Wednesday, July 2

*Daniel Boone 8, Pacific 2

*Washington 11, St. Peters 1

Thursday, July 3

*Washington 11, St. Charles 0

Friday, July 4

*Pacific at St. Peters    1:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 5

*Washington 20, Pacific 1

Sunday, July 6

*Washington 11, Warrenton 2

Monday, July 7

Washington 9, Creve Coeur 7

Blue Springs Wood Bat Tournament

Wednesday, July 9

Washington 7, Gravette Lions 0

Thursday, July 10

Washington 4, Post 339 West (Bellevue, Neb.) 2

Friday, July 11

Washington 14, Geiger Redi-Mix (Leavenworth, Kan.) 0

Washington 4, Hawthorne Outlaws (Lee's Summit) 2

Saturday, July 12

Quarterfinals — Quincy (Ill.) 4, Washington 1

Junior Legion

Tuesday, July 1

*Union 5, New Haven 0

*Union 7, New Haven 4

*St. Charles 12, Pacific 5

Thursday, July 3

*Union 13, Hannibal 2

*Union 10, Hannibal 3

*Elsberry at Pacific    7 p.m.

Saturday, July 5

*Daniel Boone at Pacific (DH)    10 a.m.

Union 6, Crocker 5

Union 13, Crocker 7

Freshman Legion

Tuesday, July 1

*Washington 16, Pacific 1

Wednesday, July 2

*Washington 11, St. Peters 0

Ninth District Tournament Schedules

Junior Legion

Tuesday, July 8

At Union High School

G1 (1) Elsberry 3, (8) New Haven 0

At Ronsick Field

G4 (3) Washington 7, (6) Wentzville 1

G4 (2) Union 8, (7) Hannibal 1

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G2 (5) St. Peters 8, (4) St. Charles 6

Wednesday, July 9

At New Haven

G5 Wentzville 4, New Haven 0

G6 St. Charles 8, Hannibal 7 (9 innings)

At Ronsick Field

G7 St. Peters 5, Elsberry 2

G8 Washington 2, Union 1

Remainder at Ronsick Field

Thursday, July 10

G9 Union 7, Wentzville 1

G10 Elsberry 3, St. Charles 2

Friday, July 11

G11 Washington 12, St. Peters 11 (10 innings)

G12 Elsberry 6, Union 3

Saturday, July 12

G13 Elsberry def. St. Peters

G14 Championship — Washington 3, Elsberry 1

Washington wins district, to host Zone 1 Tournament at Borgia next week.

 

Ninth District Tournament Schedules

Freshman Legion

Tuesday, July 8

At Elsberry Legion Field

G1 (1) St. Charles 7, (8) St. Peters 0

G2 (4) Elsberry-Winfield 4, (5) Wentzville 3

At Elsberry Khoury League Field

G3 (3) Hannibal 3, (6) Warrenton 2

G4 (2) Washington 10, (7) West 1

Wednesday, July 9

At Elsberry Khoury League Field

G5 St. Peters 17, Warrenton 6

G6 Wentzville 5, West 4

At Elsberry Legion Field

G7 St. Charles 10, Elsberry-Winfield 2

G8 Washington 3, Hannibal 0

Remainder at Elsberry Legion Field

Thursday, July 10

G9 St. Peters 11, Hannibal 9

G10 Elsberry-Winfield 13, Wentzville 4

Friday, July 11

G12 Elsberry-Winfield def. St. Peters

G11 Washington 6, St. Charles 0, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 12

G13 St. Charles def. Elsberry-Winfield

G14 Championship — St. Charles 5, Washington 2

Sunday, July 13

G15 If-Needed Game — Washington vs. St. Charles, 1 p.m.

Swim Team Schedules

Washington Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Oaks Landing    Washington 192-100

6-16    Westglen    Washington 259-206

6-23    at Fox Creek    Washington 311-225

6-30    at Chadwick    Chadwick 264-258

7-7    Cherry Hills    Washington 291-140

7-11 at Division Meet, Westminster Christian

Pacific Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    Lake of the Woods    LOtW 176-130

6-16    at Union    Union 289-220

6-23    Bridle Creek    Pacific 371-124

6-30    at Arbor Oaks    Pacific 282-241

7-7    at Indian Hills    Cancelled, weather

7-12    Division Meet    8 a.m.

Union Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Arbor Oaks    Union 180-120

6-16    Pacific    Union 289-220

6-23    at Lake of the Woods    LoTW 312-201

6-30    Indian Hills    Union 322-275

7-7    Bridle Creek    6 p.m.

7-12    at Division Meet, Pacific    8 a.m.

Pacific Diving Team

Date    Opponent    Time

6-14    at MAC West    MAC West 40-30

6-21    at Lindgate    Lindgate

6-28    at Cool Dell    9 a.m.

7-13    at Championships    8 a.m.

Great Midwest Football League

July 5

Missouri Cyclones 22, Midwest Chargers 14

July 12

Missouri Cyclones at Missouri Valley Pitbulls, St. Charles High School, 5 p.m.

Ninth District Standings

July 1, 2014

District Games Only

Senior Legion

Team    Wins    Losses

West    11    2

Daniel Boone 262    9    3

Washington 218    11    5

St. Charles 312    9    5

Elsberry 226    8    5

Wentzville 323    5    5

St. Peters 313    7    7

Pacific 320    3    10

Warrenton 122    0    10

Sullivan 18    1    12

2014 Final Standings

Junior Legion

Team    Wins    Losses

Elsberry 226    20    2

Union 297    19    3

Washington 218    18    4

St. Charles 312    14    8

St. Peters 313    12    10

Wentzville 323    12    10

Hannibal 55    10    12

New Haven 366    9    13

Daniel Boone 262    5    14

Warrenton 122    3    16

Pacific 320    3    15

Sullivan 18    0    20

Freshman Legion

Team    Wins    Losses

St. Charles 312    20    0

Washington 218    17    3

Hannibal 55    16    4

Elsberry-Winfield 226    14    6

Wentzville 323    9    11

Warrenton 122    8    12

West    7    13

St. Peters 313    6    14

New Haven 366    5    15

Pacific 320    4    16

Elsberry 226    4    16

*Indicates League Games

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