After starting the season with eight consecutive wins, the Washington Post 218 Senior Legion team ran smack into a brick wall this past weekend.
Washington (10-5, 9-1) dropped four road games Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, Post 218 lost twice in Elsberry. In Ninth District action, Post 218 lost to Elsberry, 4-3. In a game against 10th District opponent Manchester, Post 218 was shut out, 4-0.
On Sunday, Washington lost twice in Festus.
In a rematch of last year’s state championship series, Post 218 fell to host Festus, 7-6.
And in the second game, Washington lost to Jackson, 8-4.
“We really need to find a way to play better defense,” said Post 218 Manager Mike Gardner. “We are just not putting together a complete effort. It seems that when we do play good defense we don’t get the timely hits to score enough runs. Our pitching has been sold for the most part. Our team overall is a little younger than last year and we just need to keep working to consistently put forth the effort it takes to win at this level. I am really encouraged with the way we have played in most of our games and I think our kids learned that we have what it takes to beat the better teams in the state.”
Washington returns to action Wednesday in the Post 218 Wood Bat Tournament.
Post 218 dropped its first Ninth District game of the season Saturday afternoon in Elsberry, 4-3.
“We just were not able to put together enough quality at-bats to get some timely hits to drive in runs. We had runners in scoring position on several occasions with less than two outs and could not come up with the big hit. Their pitcher really did a great job in pitching out of jams.”
Elsberry took the lead in the opening frame, 1-0, but Washington tied it in the fourth with a run and took the lead with two more runs in the fifth. Elsberry got one run back in the bottom of the inning to make it 3-2.
In the sixth, Elsberry scored twice to take a 4-3 lead. Washington could not score again and the host squad won the game, 4-3.
Elsberry won despite committing seven errors in the game to Washington’s two. Elsberry outhit Washington, 7-6.
Dustin Howard and Matt Jones each had two hits for Post 218. Batters with one hit each were Grant Eckelkamp and Trent Leimkuehler.
Eckelkamp, Jack Kopmann and David McNeal each drew walks.
Leimkuehler, Kopmann and Howard scored the runs. Dilan Bollmann ended with one RBI.
Noah Borgerding and McNeal chipped in with sacrifices. Sam Deschenes and Howard stole bases.
Brendan Kleekamp suffered the loss, allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks over 7.2 innings. He struck out seven.
“Brendan Kleekamp started on the mound and pitched a very good game,” Gardner said. “Unfortunately he made one bad pitch to their four hitter and who took advantage of it hitting a home run down the very short left field line.”
Leimkuehler recorded the final out.
Post 218 ran out of offense in the second game of the day, a seven-inning non league contest against Manchester in Elsberry, losing 4-0.
“We did not respond well to the loss to Elsberry and were just plain flat against Manchester,” said Gardner. “We did not play good defense and were not able to string any hits together.”
Manchester scored all of its runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Post 218 managed five hits in the game to six for Manchester. Washington also committed three errors to none for Manchester.
Washington’s hits came from Eckelkamp, Deschenes, Leimkuehler, Jones and Austin Rettke.
Leimkuehler had the only extra-base hit, a double. Rettke also was hit by a pitch while Deschenes stole a base.
Brendan Feldmann pitched five innings, allowing four runs (one earned) on six hits and three walks. He struck out five.
“Brendan Feldmann pitched and deserved a better effort from his teammates as he certainly pitched well enough for us to win the game,” Gardner said.
Jones pitched the final inning, striking out one.
After heading north on Saturday, Post 218 went south on Sunday to face Festus and Jackson in another three-team event in Festus.
It had all of the excitement of last year’s Missouri Senior Legion State Championship series in Sedalia. Unfortunately for Washington, it had the same result.
Festus Post 253 won the game, 7-6, scoring in the bottom of the eighth inning to complete the game.
“After a disappointing day on Saturday we came out with a great attitude and really took it to Festus early in the game,” Gardner said. “Unfortunately our defense was not up to the task when the going got tough.”
Washington took the early lead with two runs in the third and single tallies in the fourth and fifth innings.
Festus rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth with five runs, 5-4.
Washington bounced back with two runs in the top of the sixth, but Festus tied it in the bottom of that inning, 6-6.
“I was very pleased in that we did not quit once they went ahead and we were able to come back and tie the game on a big hit from Sam Deschenes,” said Gardner.
Festus scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth.
Each team had nine hits in the game and Washington committed three errors to two for Post 253.
Leimkuehler led the offense with three hits. Howard added two while Eckelkamp, Deschenes, Kopmann and Borgerding each added one hit.
Leimkuehler had the only extra-base hit, a double.
Eckelkamp scored twice while Deschenes, Leimkuehler, Howard and Bollmann each scored once.
Jones drove in two runs while Deschenes, Leimkuehler and Borgerding had one RBI each.
Leimkuehler, Mike McGilvray and Kopmann each walked twice. Deschenes walked once.
Jones had two sacrifices while Eckelkamp contributed one. Eckelkamp was hit by two pitches. Eckelkamp and Leimkeuhler stole bases.
Washington used five pitchers in the game. Tony Helfrich got the start and went 4.2 innings, allowing five runs (one earned) on five hits. He struck out three.
Jones tossed an inning, allowing one run on two hits. He struck out one.
Cody Gardner threw 1.1 innings, allowing two hits. He struck out one.
Howard pitched one-third of an inning, allowing one run on two walks. He was charged with the loss.
Zach Pointer got one out.
“Tony Helfrich started on the mound and breezed through the first four innings,” Gardner said. “The game was very spirited and both benches were not shy about making their presence known. I think we handled it pretty well, we just could not make a few plays during the game or throw enough strikes at the end.”
Post 218 concluded the weekend with an 8-4 loss to Jackson.
Washington scored first, getting a run in the bottom of the first inning. Jackson took the lead with three runs in the second.
Post 218 rallied with three runs in the third to take the lead again, but Jackson scored four times in the fourth and added another run in the top of the seventh to win.
“We started off OK against Jackson, but again our defense let us down,” Gardner said.
Jackson only had six hits in the game, but took advantage of Washington fielding miscues. Post 218 committed five errors in the game. Washington only had four hits in the contest.
The Post 218 hits came from Leimkuehler, Jones, Howard and Kleekamp.
Eckelkamp, Deschenes, Leimkuehler and Howard scored runs.
Kleekamp drove home two while Leimkuehler and Howard each had one RBI.
Kleekamp and Leimkuehler each tripled in the game.
Deschenes, Howard and Jones were hit by pitches. Deschenes stole two bases while Eckelkamp added one steal.
Deschenes, Eckelkamp, Leimkuehler, Kleekamp and Kopmann each walked once.
Luke Hasenjaeger started on the hill and took the loss. He went four innings, allowing seven runs (four earned) on three hits and three walks. He struck out three.
McGilvray went three innings, allowing one run on three hits. He struck out one.