The comeback outdueled the call-up.
Spencer Juergens, pitching for only the second time this season, threw a shutout to help the host Washington Post 218 Junior Legion team defeat Pacific Post 320 in the Ninth District Tournament championship game Saturday, 4-0.
“We played a good game today,” Post 218 Manager Phillip Kleekamp said. “It was a really tight game. One of our goals from the get-go was to win the regular season and the district tournament championship. Our guys came to play today.”
Pacific threw Austin Muich, who spent most of the season with the Post 320 Freshman Legion team, and he also went the distance.
“We played really well today,” said Pacific Manager Cory Cowsert. “I can’t complain how they competed. The only thing I have got to say is that we have got to do a better job of getting our bunts down. That was a big difference in the game. Washington came out and got their bunts down. We missed a lot of opportunities over the first four innings. Realistically, I think the scoreboard should be tied and we should still be playing.”
Washington (26-2) and Pacific (27-5) both return to Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field this week for the Zone 1 Tournament.
“You can’t ask for too much more than that. It’s still going to take a great effort,” Kleekamp said. “We have seen Hannibal and we’ve obviously seen Pacific. It’s nice to have it here at home and see everyone come out and support Post 218 baseball.”
Pacific will take on Jefferson City Post 5 Thursday at 8 p.m. while Washington will face the winner of the Chillicothe-Hannibal first-round game Friday at 5 p.m.
“I told our kids that no matter what happens, we’re in the zone,” said Cowsert. “It’s always nice to win, but go out, have fun and play baseball. I think they did. They’re upset they lost, but they know it’s not the end of the season.”
Juergens, who didn’t pitch most of the season due to an arm injury, went the distance while throwing for just the second time this season. He threw a two-hit shutout in his only other outing June 2 in a victory over West.
“Spencer Juergens pitched an outstanding ballgame,” Kleekamp said. “It was his first time pitching in about a month and a half. We didn’t know what we were going to get out of him. We were planning on keeping him at a little lower pitch count, but he kept saying he felt good and he wanted to go.”
In Saturday’s game, Juergens allowed four hits and two walks while hitting three batters. He needed 106 pitches to finish out the seven innings.
“Juergens pitched very well,” Cowsert said. “He filled it up. I told our kids to be patient and they did that. All we could do was try to get him out of there. We did all we could in the first few innings. Good teams make good plays and that’s what Washington did today.”
Muich stepped up to help Pacific’s pitching staff by going all six innings. He allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks. He struck out five batters.
“He pitched his butt off,” Cowsert said. “I can’t ask for anything more than that from him. He’s hard to hit because he hides the ball well and he’s got some movement on it.”
Muich was a double-rostered player who was on the Post 320 Freshman Legion team for most of the season.
“He played for them and got his at-bats in,” Cowsert said. “I told him that if he played for me, it probably would be on the mound. He’s a great pitcher. We saw that today. Even though he took the loss, he threw the ball well.”
Washington pushed a run across the plate in the bottom of the first inning and that held into the fifth.
Post 218 added three runs in the bottom of the fifth to gain some breathing room and then finished out the shutout.
“We definitely were playing for one run, but we got some guys on and got some hits,” Kleekamp said. “That’s what our team has been doing all year.”
For Washington, Seth Bollmann and Nathaniel Hillermann each had two hits in the game with two stolen bases and one run.
Aaron Meyer, Ryan Becszlko and Justin Baylard posted one hit each.
Meyer scored once, drove in one, stole a base and walked twice.
Becszlko drove in a run.
Baylard plated two runs with his hit.
John Himmelberg drew a walk and stole a base.
Ross Seitter stole a base and scored.
For Pacific, Tyler Gerling recorded two of the team’s four hits.
Drew Fonner and Ryan Ray also recorded hits.
Alex Rice and Ryan Vogelgesang drew walks. Rice was hit by pitches twice and Fonner also was struck by a pitch.
Vogelgesang stole a base.
Washington scored in the bottom of the first. Bollmann singled and stole second. With two outs, Becszlko hit a single and Bollmann scored.
In the fifth inning, Seitter led off by reaching on an error. He stole second and scored on a hit by Meyer. Hillermann then bunted and an error put runners on second and third.
Baylard singled to center to drive home both runs.
Pacific had chances. Six times, Post 320 put runners into scoring position, but couldn’t bring them home.