As the overwhelming favorite to win the Ninth District South Division Tournament, the Washington Post 218 Seniors were careful not to overlook Central in an opening round contest.
Top-seeded Post 218 broke a 1-1 tie with five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and cruised to an 11-1 win in seven innings over the fourth-seeded Spartans Thursday night at C&H Park in St. Peters.
Washington (30-6) plays third-seeded Daniel Boone in the winner’s bracket final Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Ronsick Field.
Daniel Boone defeated second-seeded Wentzville Thursday night, 9-5.
“We want to play the same way all the time. It doesn’t matter who our opponent is,” Post 218 Manager Mike Gardner said after the game. “Sometimes when we look at the other team’s record and know we’re a better team, we come out flat. We played some pretty good baseball tonight.”
Tony Helfrich pitched all seven innings for Post 218 to earn the win. He allowed one run on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.
“Tony was great again, as usual. He had one inning where he left the ball up and out over the plate,” Gardner said. “He was at 80 pitches in seven innings and gave up three hits and one run. We’ll take that every time out.”
Washington outhit Central, 13-3.
All nine players in Washington’s starting lineup scored at least one run.
Leading the way for Post 218 were Dilan Bollmann and Matt Jones, who both finished with three hits.
Bollmann added three RBIs and one run. Jones had a double, two RBIs and one run.
Grant Eckelkamp and Trent Leimkuehler both collected two hits.
Eckelkamp also was hit by a pitch and scored three runs. Leimkuehler also walked twice, had one RBI and one run.
Dustin Howard and Jack Kopmann both finished with one hit, one walk and one run.
Sam Deschenes had one hit, one RBI and one run.
Mike McGilvray was hit by a pitch and reached on both a fielder’s choice and an error. He scored one run.
Noah Borgerding had one walk, one RBI and one run.
“When we’re good, the bottom of our lineup drives runners in and gets on base,” Gardner said. “That’s the key. You have to turn the lineup over. You can’t rely on the top three or four guys. You need to have everybody in the lineup producing.”
Alex Erb, a lefty, got the start on the mound for Central and took the loss. In four plus innings, he allowed five runs on six hits with one walk, two hit batters and seven strikeouts.
Blake Wellinghoff, a tall right-hander, worked two plus innings in relief. He allowed six runs on five hits with five walks and two strikeouts.
David Evans, another southpaw, gave up hits to the only two batters he faced before the game ended due to the 10-run mercy rule.
“Erb is a good pitcher. He’s going to Lindenwood. We knew he was going to be tough,” Gardner said. “Once we figured out we had to sit on his fastball, we got some runners on base and put some pressure on them by stealing bases. That made a difference.”
Jack Webb, Tyler Emery and Drew Watts each had one hit for Central.
Post 218 took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning.
Eckelkamp singled, stole second base and scored when McGilvray reached on an error.
Central tied the game 1-1 with a run in the top of the fourth inning.
In Washington’s five-run fifth inning, key hits were RBI singles by Bollmann and Deschenes and a two-run single by Jones.
Deschenes’ RBI single missed being a grand slam by a couple of feet, hitting high off the left-field wall.
Post 218 ended the contest with five more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Key hits in the inning were a two-run single by Bollmann followed by an RBI single by Leimkuehler, which ended the game.
The remainder of the South Tournament will be played at Ronsick Field.
Brendan Kleekamp is expected to be the starting pitcher for Washington Friday against Daniel Boone.
The winner reaches the title contest Sunday at 1 p.m.
The loser plays Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in the loser’s bracket final.
“We can’t worry about who we’re playing,” Gardner said. “We need to play our brand of baseball and get after it.”