Postseason baseball in the American Legion ranks has arrived.
The Ninth District Freshmen and Junior Tournaments both begin Saturday.
The entire Freshmen Tournament takes place at Ronsick Field in Washington.
The Junior Tournament will be played at various locations throughout the district. The championship game will be played at Ronsick Field.
The Freshmen Tournament starts Saturday and will end either Wednesday or Thursday, July 11 or 12, at Ronsick Field.
Washington Post 218 (31-1) is the top seed in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament.
“The key for us is we have to keep pitching better than our opponent. Each team seams to have one or two aces, so getting the first two wins is big and then we’ll see how our No. 3 pitcher matches up with the other team’s No. 3 pitcher,” said Post 218 Manager Kevin Juergens. “We have a couple of pitchers who we could throw the third game. Our plan is to throw Spencer Juergens our first game, then come back with Austin Finder on Sunday. Whether we win or lose, we still have Evan Ayers, Nate Hillermann or Logan Holdmeyer to pitch game three. Then we would be able to roll Spencer and Austin over to pitch game four and game five if needed.”
Pacific Post 320 (13-3) is seeded second.
“It takes four straight wins to win the tournament and we have our top four pitchers ready to go with Ryan Howell, Nick Hogan, Brett Mann and Drew Fonner,” said Post 320 Coach Cody Kelley. “I like our matchups with Elsberry and then either North or West. A really good game to watch could be in the second round between Washington and St. Peters or St. Charles. All of those teams have good pitching. It should be a fun tournament to watch.”
The North Knights are seeded third followed by St. Peters, St. Charles, West, Elsberry and Central.
The four first-round games will be played Saturday.
Washington takes on Central at 10 a.m. followed by St. Peters against St. Charles at 12:30 p.m., North against West at 3 p.m. and Pacific versus Elsberry at 5:30 p.m.
All eight teams return to action Sunday.
The loser’s bracket contests are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
The winner’s bracket semifinals take place at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Washington would play at 3 p.m. and Pacific would follow at 5:30 p.m. with victories Saturday.
The winner’s bracket final is scheduled for Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.
The championship contest takes place Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
If a second championship game is needed, it will be played Thursday at 6 p.m.
“I think we have a chance to win this. Like any other team, we have to limit our mistakes and stay away from allowing big innings,” Juergens said. “Hopefully the baseball gods will be with us. There’s nothing wrong with having a little luck along the way.”
The winner of the district tournament advances to the Freshmen State Tournament July 18-22 in Branson.
The Junior Tournament begins Saturday and concludes Friday, July 13.
Washington Post 218 (26-5) is the top seed for the 11-team, double elimination event.
“We definitely have an advantage picking up the first seed. We will get to sit back an extra couple of days and save some pitching,” said Post 218 Manager Phillip Kleekamp. “Our squad has five or six solid starters, so we should have an advantage with our pitching staff, especially earning a first-round bye. The majority of the teams in the tournament have a legitimate chance of getting hot and making a run. There are not any easy games left.”
Elsberry is seeded second in the tournament followed by Daniel Boone, O’Fallon, West, St. Peters, St. Charles, Warrenton, North, Wentzville and Sullivan.
The top three seeds received first-round byes.
Warrenton opens the tournament against North Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Rec Plex in St. Peters.
Sullivan takes on St. Peters Saturday at 8:15 p.m. at the Rec Plex.
Post 218 opens against the Warrenton-North winner Sunday at 8 p.m. at Ronsick Field.
The winner’s bracket semifinals are scheduled for Tuesday. Post 218 would play at Westhoff Park in O’Fallon at 8:15 p.m.
The winner’s bracket final runs Wednesday at Westhoff Park at 7 p.m.
Ronsick Field hosts the championship game Friday, July 13, at 6 p.m. If needed, a second title game will be played at 8:30 p.m.
The winner of the district tournament will host the Zone Tournament July 19-22.
As the regular season district champion, Washington already has clinched a spot in the Zone Tournament. If Post 218 wins the district tournament, the second-place team in the regular season also will advance to the Zone Tournament.
“We are aware that we will get everyone’s best effort, so our guys have to come out ready to play every inning of every game. If you let any of these teams hang around, they can definitely come back and bite you,” Kleekamp said. “This is one of the toughest districts in the state. Every inning is important. Hopefully our bats can stay hot and the pitching will stay where it has been all season. If we play the way we have the last week or so, we definitely have a chance to make a lot of noise in the tournament.”