Taking advantage of second chances, St. Charles Post 312 emerged as the last undefeated team in the Senior Legion Zone 1 Tournament Saturday in Washington.
Post 312 rallied from a three-run deficit to knock off Washington Post 218 in the winners' bracket final at Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field.
Now, St. Charles can sit back until Sunday's 11 a.m. championship game knowing that whichever team emerges from a the remaining three left in the event will have to win twice to take away the zone's spot in the state tournament in Sedalia.
Post 218 plays at 7 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the day's second game between Jefferson City Post 5 and Moberly Post 6.
Post 312 has taken advantage of its second chances in the postseason. After losing to West in the Ninth District North Division playoffs, St. Charles earned the league's third zone berth as the team with the best regular season league record not qualified.
St. Charles took advantage of its second chance to beat one of the Zone Tournament favorites, West, in the opening round, 4-3. Playing a second game, Post 312 beat Moberly before posting its biggest win of the event Saturday afternoon.
Sam Melliere threw 125 pitches while allowing 10 hits and one walk and striking out one, but he earned the victory over Washington.
St. Charles had difficulty doing anything against Post 218 starter Cody Gardner for seven innings. Gardner came out in the eighth and was tagged with the loss. In 7.1 innings, he allowed four runs (one earned) on five hits and one walk. He struck out five.
Washington took the lead in the game during the third inning when Grant Eckelkamp scored on a hit by Trent Leimkuehler. Both Eckelkamp and Leimkuehler scored on a double by Mike McGilvray in the top of the eighth to make it 3-0.
The way the game had been going, a 3-0 lead might as well have been a 30-0 lead. But St. Charles dug down and its never-say-die attitude paid off and Post 218 made the mistakes to give St. Charles the window it needed.
Sam Chambers led off with a single. With one out, Connor Brett singled. Michael Pundmann struck out but the runners advance when the third strike eluded Post 218's catcher.
St. Charles loaded the bases on another fielding miscue as a throw was dropped at second base on a force play.
After that, Gardner was relieved by Matt Jones, who had earned the save Thursday in the 1-0 win over Jefferson City.
With two outs, St. Charles took advantage of a second chance as a foul ball narrowly missed being caught. Andrew Holdgreive hit a two-strike pitch on the ground to second base. The tying run scored when the ball was bobbled. A go-ahead run scored when Post 218 threw the ball to third trying to get an out there. Leimkuehler threw Holtgreive out at second to end the inning.
Post 218 opened the top of the ninth with a walk by Dustin Howard and a pop single into right field by Jack Kopmann.
But Eckelkamp lined out to Holtgreive at first and he dove to tag the bag before Kopmann could get back to end the game.