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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.

/

Area Scoreboard

Football

Friday, Sept. 19

*Ft. Zumwalt S at Washington    7 p.m.

Cardinal Ritter at Borgia    7 p.m.

*St. Clair at Union    7 p.m.

*Pacific at Sullivan    7 p.m.

*Hermann at Owensville    7 p.m.

Ash Grove at St. James    7 p.m.

Cuba at Brentwood    7 p.m.

*St. Charles West at Warrenton    7 p.m.

South Callaway at Wright City     7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 12

*Ft. Zumwalt North 49, Washington 0

*Borgia 35, St. Dominic 0

*Union 27, Pacific 19

*Sullivan 47, St. Clair 21

Hermann 65, Wentzville Liberty 7

*Owensville 29, St. James 28 (OT)

Cuba 22, Windsor 6

*Warrenton 14, St. Charles 6

*Bowling Green 55, Wright City 0

Friday, Sept. 5

Warrenton 14, Washington 6

Borgia 13, Maplewood-Richmond Heights 0 (forfeit)

*Union 32, Sullivan 19

*Pacific 20, St. Clair 18

*Hermann 52, St. James 20

Owensville 35, Cuba 8

*Wright City 36, Montgomery Co. 0

Friday, Aug. 29

Sullivan 30, Washington 8

Borgia 56, Union 13

Ozark 41, St. Clair 0

Potosi 34, Pacific 13

Hermann 54, Cuba 12

Blair Oaks 42, Owensville 0

St. James 36, Houston 18

Warrenton 28, Troy 0

Orchard Farm 36, Wright City 18

Friday, Aug. 22

Washington 26, St. Clair 21

Borgia 48, Owensville 12

Parkway West 49, Union 39

Pacific 28, De Soto 20

Park Hills Central 34, Sullivan 27

St. James 12, Cuba 6

Hermann 61, Montgomery Co 12

Warrenton 26, St. Dominic 23

Trinity 28, Wright City 24

Softball

Tuesday, Sept. 16

*Borgia at Notre Dame    4:30 p.m.

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt N    4:30 p.m.

*Union at Owensville    4:30 p.m.

*Pacific at New Haven    4:30 p.m.

*St. James at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Hermann at Sullivan    4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 17

Washington at Warrenton    4:30 p.m.

Sullivan at Northwest    4:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 18

*St. Dominic at Borgia    3:45 p.m.

*Union at Hermann    4:30 p.m.

*St. Clair at New Haven    4:30 p.m.

*St. James at Pacific    4:30 p.m.

*Owensville at Sullivan    4:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 19

Union at Ft. Zumwalt N Tny    TBA

South Callaway at New Haven    5 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 20

Union at Ft. Zumwalt N Tny    TBA

St. James Tny    TBA

Monday, Sept. 22

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt S    4:30 p.m.

Union at North County    4:30 p.m.

Warrenton at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

Principia at Sullivan    4:30 p.m.

Hermann at Cuba    4:30 p.m.

Owensville at Cuba    4:30 p.m.

St. James at Bourbon    4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 23

*Borgia at Duchesne    4:30 p.m.

*Holt at Washington    4:30 p.m.

*Pacific at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Owensville at New Haven    4:30 p.m.

*Hermann at St. James    4:30 p.m.

Volleyball

Tuesday, Sept. 16

*Sullivan at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt E    5 p.m.

*New Haven at Union    5:30 p.m.

*Pacific at Hermann    5:30 p.m.

*Owensville at St. James    5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 17

Washington at Duchesne    5 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 18

*St. Clair at Owensville    5 p.m.

*Union at Pacific    5:30 p.m.

*Hermann at New Haven    5:30 p.m.

*St. James at Sullivan    5:30 p.m.

O’Fallon Christian at Borgia    6:30 p.m.

Washington at Gateway Match Up    TBA

Friday, Sept. 19

Eagle Ridge at Crosspoint    5:15 p.m.

Providence at Crosspoint    7:15 p.m.

Washington at Gateway Match Up    TBA

Saturday, Sept. 20

New Haven Round Robin    9 a.m.

ECC at Wentworth    1 p.m.

ECC vs. Graceland JV (Wentworth)    3 p.m.

Washington at Gateway Match Up    TBA

St. Clair at Seckman Tny    TBA

Monday, Sept. 22

St. Clair at Salem    5 p.m.

Bourbon at Sullivan    5:30 p.m.

Dixon at St. James    5:30 p.m.

Hermann Tournament    TBA

Tuesday, Sept. 23

Cuba at St. James    5:30 p.m.

Crosspoint at Bethel    5:30 p.m.

Crosspoint vs. Thomas Jefferson    6:30 p.m.

Hermann Tournament    TBA

Boys Soccer

Tuesday, Sept. 16

Crosspoint at Fulton St. Albans    4:30 p.m.

Tolton Catholic at Borgia    5:30 p.m.

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt E    6 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 17

*St. Louis at ECC    4:30 p.m.

Union at Affton    5 p.m.

St. Clair at De Soto    5 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 18

*St. Clair at St. James    5 p.m.

Dixon at Sullivan    5 p.m.

Borgia at Trinity    6:15 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 19

Eagle Ridge at Crosspoint    4:30 p.m.

Tolton at Fulton SA    5 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 20

*Ft. Zumwalt S at Washington    10 a.m.

Crowder at ECC    2 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 22

Hillsboro at Union    5 p.m.

CYC Tny    TBA

Tuesday, Sept. 23

*Fulton SA at Thomas Jefferson    4:30 p.m.

North County at Union    5 p.m.

*St. James at Pacific    5 p.m.

*Borgia at St. Dominic    6:15 p.m.

CYC Tny    TBA

Cross Country

Thursday, Sept. 18

St. Clair at Lutheran North    4 p.m.

New Haven, St. James at Steelville Inv    4 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 20

Festus Inv.    9 a.m.

Hermann at Fulton Inv    9 a.m.

Thursday, Sept. 25

Washington at Rolla Inv    4 p.m.

Union, Owensville, St. James at Belle Inv    4 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 27

Hancock Inv    8:30 a.m.

Pacific at Viburnum Inv    10:30 a.m.

Monday, Sept. 29

St. Clair at Elsberry Inv    4 p.m.

St. James at Dixon    4 p.m.

Girls Golf

Tuesday, Sept. 16

*Borgia at St. Dominic    3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 17

Duchesne at Borgia    3:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 18

Ft. Zumwalt S at Washington    3:30 p.m.

Borgia at AAA Meet, Lutheran SC    TBA

Wednesday, Sept. 24

Washington at GAC Central Meet    TBA

Thursday, Sept. 25

*Duchesne at Borgia    3:30 p.m.

Boys Swimming

Saturday, Sept. 20

Borgia at Ft. Zumwalt W    8:30 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 29

Washington at Ft. Zumwalt South    3:30 p.m.

*Conference Games

Racing News