JOPLIN — To win the Junior Legion state baseball championship, Washington Post 218 will have to climb through the losers’ bracket.
Playing in the opening round Thursday at Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin, Post 218 suffered an 11-7 loss to the Glendale Falcons.
“It’s a really tough way for us to go now. Obviously, it’s not the way we drew it up,” said Post 218 Manager Phillip Kleekamp. “We have the horses to be able to do it. We just have to take it one game at a time the rest of the way.”
Post 218 (30-3) bounced back to crush Joplin Thursday night in a losers’ bracket contest, 21-0, and was scheduled to play Fike Post 499 (30-17) Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Glendale was scheduled to play Ste. Genevieve in the winners’ bracket final Friday afternoon. St. Genevieve knocked off Fike, 5-2.
Washington actually outhit Glendale 13-11, but was hurt by five errors.
The Falcons held leads of 4-0 after two innings and 8-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.
But Washington did not go down quietly.
Post 218 chipped away, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to make the 8-4.
After Glendale added a run in the top of the sixth inning to increase its lead to 9-4, Post 218 scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to pull to within 9-7.
Glendale sealed the win with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh inning.
“We worked hard to get back into the game,” Kleekamp said. “I’m proud of the way we played in the last four innings.”
Aaron Meyer got the start on the mound for Washington and suffered the loss. In four innings of work, he allowed eight runs, two earned, on nine hits with one walk and one strikeout in 68 pitches.
Nick Thiel tossed three frames in relief. He allowed three unearned runs on two hits with three walks and one strikeout.
“Aaron worked hard and Nick came in and did a good job. They hit the ball,” Kleekamp said. “The frustrating part was that they hit a couple of dinks and dunks and then they hit it in the gaps. Until the third or fourth inning, they didn’t hit the ball very hard, and then they started hitting the gaps. Give them credit. They hit the ball well and they made the plays. We had a great effort coming back. We just put ourselves into too big of a hole.”
Austin Huff pitched the entire game for Glendale. In seven innings, he allowed seven runs, three earned, on 13 hits with one walk and three strikeouts in 115 pitches.
“Once everybody saw him once, we did a good job adjusting to him. We forced him to work harder,” Kleekamp said. “We were a little nervous to start the game. Once we settled in, we did a good job at the plate.”
It was a bit of a sloppy game defensively as the two teams combined for eight errors.
Meyer led the offensive attack for Post 218 by going 4-4 at the plate with one RBI.
Ross Seitter and John Himmelberg both were 2-4. Himmelberg scored two runs. Seitter added one RBI and one run.
Seth Bollmann collected one hit (triple), two RBIs and one run.
Justin Baylard registered one hit, one walk and one run.
Spencer Juergens and Thiel finished with one hit and one run.
Nate Hillermann added one hit.
Chandler Collins, Samuel Parrish and Huff each had two hits for Glendale.
“We hit the ball really well after the third inning. We played a pretty good ballgame overall. The difference was they got some bunts down that we couldn’t field and we had five errors,” Kleekamp said. “We hit a tough pitcher. You just can’t spot a team seven runs in the state tournament. That was the difference in the game.”